Auston Banks had a point to make Friday.
Cover teammate and Notre Dame receiver Kareem Orr with two or three extras and Banks was going to make Upperman pay for it.
"He was a man on a mission. He was running the ball like he did at Boyd-Buchanan," Irish coach Charles Fant said of the junior running back's efforts in a 19-10 Class 3A playoff loss at Upperman. "The first hit, he'd break through it; he was dragging people with him, refusing to go down."
Banks, who will be back for a 2014 run along with a vast majority of his teammates, scored his team's only TD and ran for 203 yards on 24 carries and earned Times Free Press Player of the Week honors.
The Irish led 10-7 at the half but couldn't punch across another score after surrendering the lead with 3:21 left in the game.
"I'm proud of the guys. The defense once again played hard and gave us an opportunity to win the game, but Upperman made great adjustments on defense to limit what we could do offensively," Fant said. "They made three or four third-and-short stops that were crucial to the outcome. We just gave them one opportunity to many."
Notre Dame was able to control the ball fairly well with Banks averaging eight yards per carry.
"There's no question he has gotten better as the season progressed. During the Polk County [regular season] week we had some problems when it came to preparation, and Auston was one of the players that took it upon himself to make things better. He did everything he could to improve himself."
Banks has become more than the scatback of 2012.
"He came improve even more, but he's running with power, falling forward when he's going down. He's striding with his legs when two or three guys are trying to tackle him and he's moving the piles," Fant said. "This is the first [year] since middle school that he has shown he was special running the football."
That's already fairly special for a guy that's 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, but Fant indicated that the best is yet to come.
"He's a high 4.4 or low 4.5 (40-yard dash) guy but the way he trains, that will come down to the high 4.3s or low 4.4s. He's really special in the open field and he already catches well," the coach said. "The way the game has evolved with the quick screens and bubble screens, you don't have to be that real big, strong back -- the 230- or 240-pounder -- to be special. You can be short and a little lighter, but you have to have that speed and quickness."
There are two Chattanooga area teams still active in the Tennessee playoffs. Cleveland will travel to Knox West in Class 5A and South Pittsburg is on the road at Coalfield.
In Georgia, Ringgold is at home against Central of Carrollton and Calhoun travels to Benedictine.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...