The running game is the strong suit for both offenses heading into Friday night. It could very easily come down to which star tailback can find holes in the opposing defense.
St. Xavier Depth Chart
– #22 TaiJon Smith- 5’9”| 177 lbs.| Senior
– #34 John Martinez- 5’9”| 180 lbs.| Junior
– #23 Chase Rowan- 5’11”| 167 lbs.| Junior
St. Xavier Overview
Historically, St. X is a school that breeds outstanding running backs. Victor Anderson, Deuce Finch, Lamont McMurry, Devontae Beach, Austin Davis, Treyveon Percell, Charles Walker. I could rattle them off all day long. Soon, another young man will be added to that list of legendary St. Xavier running backs. His name is TaiJon Smith and he is ready to run all over the Rocks tomorrow. All year long the Tigers have depended on Smith to carry them on offense, especially when it was struggling. TaiJon has been there in every game and has not disappointed. In the two losses on the season where the Tigers were shutout, Smith was the only positive on offense. He gained a combined 101 yards on 35 carries in those two games. He knows how to read a defense and says he has no plans to slow down on Friday night.
“I plan on playing the game the way I know and constantly looking to move the ball down the field,” he says.
Simple enough, TaiJon. Smith’s breakout game was against Bryan Station when he shredded the Defender defense for 178 yards on a whopping 32 carries. He has scored four touchdowns on the season and couldn’t have done it without his backfield mate, John Martinez. At a solid 180 lbs. for his 5’9” frame, Martinez is a load and is hard to take down once he gets moving. He is the perfect complement to Smith and can provide a much needed change of pace for the running game. Martinez is capable of reeling off 50+ yard runs in the blink of an eye and can be a dynamic, game-changing back. He had a field day against Bryan Station as well, gaining 82 yards and scoring a touchdown on just 10 carries. If the offensive line can hold up, which it has in the run game up to this point, then watch out for this powerful one-two punch coming out of the Tiger backfield.
Trinity Depth Chart
– #19 Donald Brooks- 5’11”| 185lbs.| Senior
– #34 Jailen Reed- 5’10”| 200lbs.| Junior
– #3 Jody Osborne- 5’6”| 150lbs.| Junior
Donald Brooks is a beast. That is honestly the best way to describe him. Through 6 games, he leads the state with 924 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns. If you think those numbers are staggering, get this: he is averaging 154 yards per game on the ground. That’s more than some high school offenses can gain in an entire game. Brooks is without a doubt the center of the offensive game plan for the Rocks and is the number one player on the Tiger defense’s radar tomorrow night. Stopping him is a must in order to win. Brooks is the clear-cut feature back for Trinity and will get the bulk of the carries tomorrow night. The thing that makes him so dangerous is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and turn it up the field in no time. His complement in the backfield is junior Jailen Reed, who makes the most of his opportunities when he is in the game. Reed’s ability to relieve Brooks is important because his running style is different and slows the game down for the offense.
Quarterback Ryan Young said each of the Shamrock tailbacks has a certain skill.
“Donald’s strength is his power and quickness through holes, Jailen is more of a power back, and Jody is a straight speed back.”
Young appreciates his running backs’ abilities, and he should, because they help relieve him of pressure and make defenses respect them.
EDGE: In a comparison of two fairly equal backfields, I have to give Trinity the edge in this one. There are a few key advantages that the Rocks have over the Tigers. The first is that Brooks is simply averaging a lot more yards than any Tiger tailback and seems to be on top of his game right now. This is not a knock on Smith who is playing very well this season, but Brooks has been dominant. The second advantage is that the Rocks have three backs that are all healthy and are all logging minutes in every game. Chase Rowan has been the starter for the first two years of his St. X career and has been very good, but has been battling constant injuries this season that have kept him from seeing significant playing time. Once he is healthy, look out. So I’m giving Trinity the edge here because they have three fully healthy and fully experienced backs whereas the Tigers have one that is still getting back into the groove of things. Just because I am giving them the edge does not mean that I think Smith, Martinez and Rowan can’t be better than Trinity’s trio tomorrow night. You can never count out a Tiger.