September 11, 2012 11:27:28 PM
MACON -- Darrell Robinson doesn't mind that the tide has turned.
When Robinson was in middle school, the Noxubee County High School football team had an offense that loved to throw the ball and stretch defenses with game-breaking wide receivers.
Quarterback Termarcus Conner and a group of wide receivers led by Patrick Patterson and Vince Sanders teamed to make life miserable for cornerbacks and safeties. Combined with a defense that was one of the best in school history, Noxubee County went 14-0 and won its first football championship.
Things are different in 2012.
Not only do the Tigers have experience and depth on the offensive line, they also have in Robinson a senior running back who is ready, willing, and able to carry the ball 30 times a game if he is needed.
Robinson hasn't had to take on that work load, but you wouldn't know it from the numbers. Noxubee County has rushed for more yards than it has passed in three of its first four games. Those statistics are nearly opposite of the ones for the Tigers' first four games of 2008. In two of those games, Noxubee County passed for more yards than it rushed. Total yards for one game were unavailable.
Robinson isn't surprised by the difference. In fact, the senior running back smiles because he knows times have changed, which means more work for him.
"We are getting it done in a different way," Robinson said. "I know I can run the ball, and coach trusts me to run the ball, so if it is has changed to a running game that is what we have to do.
"It helped me to know I am the man when it comes down to if we need 3 yards. I know I am the man and they depend on me to get the job done."
Robinson hopes to shoulder a large load at 7:30 p.m. Friday when Noxubee County (4-0) takes on Class 5A power West Point (2-1). Noxubee County enters the game ranked No. 6 overall in The Associated Press rankings and No. 2 in Class 4A. West Point is ranked No. 4 in Class 5A.
Robinson (71 carries, 542 yards, 12 touchdowns) has been an integral part of an attack that has scored 179 points. Granted, the defense has done its share to help Noxubee County score its most points at this stage of the season since -- you guessed it -- 2008, when Noxubee County scored 191.
Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter has confidence in senior quarterback DeAngelo Ballard to lead the passing attack. He also knows that with seven (eight when everyone is healthy) offensive lineman and a back like Robinson (and Jarvis Taylor) the Tigers don't have to throw the ball, especially if an opponent can't stop the run.
"Our success starts with an experience offensive line," Shorter said. "It also doesn't hurt to have a running back like Darrell Robinson. We also have Jarvis Taylor, who is getting a lot of yards. The offensive linemen enjoy making holes and enjoy blocking. They have been together since the seventh grade and they take pride in that.
"This team is a different team than we have had in the past. We have had Division I receivers. Now we have a Division I running back and we have some offensive linemen who are going to play college football somewhere. This team is a whole lot different than teams in the past, and our coaches have done a great job working with them. We realize we're going to have to run the football because that is where our strength is."
That's just fine with Robinson, who has a goal to rush for 2,000 yards. Success like that should help Robinson, who is 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, attract attention from college recruiters. So far, though, Robinson said he hasn't received very much interest, so he said he is going to have to keep working hard and relying on the fine work of his offensive linemen.
"They have done real good. They are the reason I have all of the yards I have now," Robinson said. "The holes are so big that anyone can run through them."
Like many of his teammates who have individual motivations, Robinson said he is driven because he wants to win a state championship in his final high school season. He has bad memories of a 21-20 loss to Amory in the Class 4A North State playoffs ended the Tigers' season much too soon. That loss motivated the team's 23 seniors to work harder in the offseason than any group Shorter remembers to make sure this season is special.
"We have the talent to make it to Jackson (the site of the state title games)," Robinson said. "All of us know it is going to take hard work to get there. It isn't just going to come to us.
"We haven't even gotten to our top level and we are already on a roll. It should get better on down the road."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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