Some of the high school football coaches in the Chattanooga area have each lost a grand or more in the last year. Only this fall will they have a chance to recoup it.
No, we’ve not been made aware of any pay cuts or a gambling ring. These 1,000s are rushing yards produced by running backs and tend to have direct effects to success on the field Friday nights.
It’s after those athletes graduate that coaches are left to continue coming up with some offense.
With a 239-61 career record, Benny Monroe has plenty of experience coaching 1,000-yard rushers, and finding successors. Entering his fourth season at Ooltewah, Monroe has already had Dewayne Caldwell followed by Tusculum signee Brian Marshall.
Matthew Polk is a 5-foot-7, 165-pound senior who will start at tailback for the Owls in 2008.
“Like Brian had to wait his turn behind Dewayne Caldwell, Matthew has had to wait his turn,” Monroe said. “Sometimes kids don’t want to do that. They’re not patient enough. I’m really confident with him. He’s certainly got the tools to do what we need done.”
Polk said being calm on the field was among the things he learned from Marshall, along with some tips on searching for openings in the line. He already knew his assets.
“I think it’s my vision and my quickness,” Polk said. “I use my vision to read the hole and my quickness to move out of the way. I don’t think about it at all. It just happens.”
Monroe said quarterback Brady Reed should’ve been competing at the junior varsity level last year when he was a sophomore, but instead had to learn at the varsity level because he was the best the Owls had. He thinks Reed’s experience should help the entire offense this season.
Tony Webb is entering his fifth season as Lookout Valley’s head coach. This will be his first season without tailback Chas Scruggs.
Scruggs played some as a freshman, topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark along with fullback Josh Goins the next season, then surpassed the 2,000-yard mark each of the last two years. Regardless, Webb said he’s confident the Yellow Jackets will find output somewhere.
“You just need production, even if it’s by committee,” Webb said. “We’ll have to probably throw it a little bit more this year. I don’t care where the production comes from.”
Lookout Valley returns its second-leading rusher in 5-9, 180-pound junior Derrick Pullom. Webb said Pullom is more concerned with helping the team than trying to measure up to his predecessor.
“Other people may be making that comparison,” Webb said. “He’s not.”
Alvin Tarver has revitalized Howard’s program the last three years and guided the Hustlin’ Tigers to 20 victories in his 32 games as head coach. Already he’s been through two 1,000-yard rushers.
After Rico Council took his talent to Tennessee State, Tremaine Hudson stepped in and exceeded the mark last season. Hudson has since signed with Tennessee Tech.
Tarver is hoping the tandem of 5-10, 185-pound sophomore Eric McCullough and 5-9, 170-pound senior Marcus Shropshire can fill the void.
“Eric can run over you, around you or through you,” Tarver said. “He has deceptive speed and good football instincts. Marcus is an unproven player but has a lot of ability. He’s shown flashes of being extremely good at times, and at times he’s shown flashes of being inexperienced.”
Tarver said stellar play from other areas of the team can make up for the loss of a 1,000-yard rusher and hopes that’s the case this year. Then he used a running back metaphor to make his point.
“I think some kids realize we don’t have a Rico or a Tremaine Hudson, and they know they’ve got to step up,” Tarver said. “We’ve got 14 seniors, and they all talk about not wanting to the be the ones to drop the ball.”
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.