published Monday, October 21st, 2013

Player of the Week Austin Herink keeps impressing

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    Cleveland quarterback threw for six touchdowns and ran for another score in Friday's win over Walker Valley.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
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13 for '13 -- Week 9

Tony Francois, East Hamilton: 153 receiving yards, 2 TDs.

Austin Herink, Cleveland: 1 rushing TD, 6 passing TDs, 352 passing yards.

Austin Jackson, Boyd-Buchanan: 164 rushing yards, game-winning TD.

Jajuan Lankford, South Pittsburg: 5 rushing TDs, 148 rushing yards.

James McClellan, Signal Mountain: 4 rushing TDs, 189 rushing yards.

Clay McHone, Whitwell: 3 rushing TDs, 192 rushing yards.

Zach Miller, Polk County: 222 rushing yards, 4 TDs.

Michael Nolan, Grundy County: 4 TDs, 151 rushing yards.

Demetrius Patterson, Rhea County: 2 rushing TDs, 82 rushing yards; 82-yard scoring reception.

Corbin Powers, McMinn County: 3 rushing TDs, 77 rushing yards, 74 passing yards.

Caleb Shiflett, Northwest Whitfield: 239 passing yards, 3 TD passes.

Kyle Sholl, Ringgold: 2 rushing TDs, 171 rushing yards.

Mikey Williams, Dade County: 4 receptions, 143 yards, 2 TDs.

His critics were wondering how Austin Herink would top a season-opening passing performance that yielded 472 yards.

Cleveland's senior quarterback came close against Soddy-Daisy with 357 yards and five TDs and then against Bradley Central he completed seven of nine passes (77.7 percent) while rushing for 83 yards.

The absolute best game to date, though, earned his Times Free Press Player of the Week honors as the Blue Raiders all but locked up a Class 5A playoff berth with a 48-14 victory over Walker Valley.

"Last week [vs. Bradley Central] may have been as good a game as he's had -- 7-of-9 and one of those was a game-winner," Cleveland coach Ron Crawford said.

Against Walker Valley, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound lefty threw for six touchdown passes and 352 yards and ran for another TD.

"The 18-of-21 may have been his best [showing] completion percentage-wise. He didn't turn it over and we won; that's the big thing," Crawford said.

There's no question what Herink does best. He uses a strong left arm to complete passes to D.J. Jones, Tyner Davis, Parker Smith, Eric Goodwin and T.J. Parker. Heading into a key game against 5-AAA leader Ooltewah, Herink now has 32 TD tosses, 2,747 passing yards, a touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio of 3.2-to-1 and a completion percentage rate of 66%.

"He can make all the throws and now he has become a better runner. He's running physically -- like you like a 6-2, 208-pounder to run -- and he's running with second effort," Crawford said. "He isn't going to outrun many, but he runs a lot better than people give him credit for."

Yet no major college recruiters are knocking down the door despite talent, size and personality. Herink's best offer at the moment is probably Youngstown State. The other offers are from UT-Martin and VMI.

"I think everybody wants that dual threat guy. Dual threat -- that's the new buzz word," Crawford said. "He's a great kid and a really good player, and we've played a good schedule. He benches [more than] 300 and squats [more than] 400. He has a 3.8 GPA, and he ran a 4.75 [40-yard dash] at Memphis. He loves and understands the weight room."

Herink isn't overly concerned about the recruiting process right now.

"He's happy. He's got his team in the playoffs," Crawford added. "He's enjoying playing football and recruiting -- let the chips fall where they may."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

about Ward Gossett...

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 ...

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