The numbers, even in a condensed regular season for some, are remarkable.
Six Chattanooga-area players who have caught the state's attention by putting up impressive statistical totals this year have been selected among the five semifinalists for the Mr. Football award in their respective classifications.
A pair of running backs in TSSAA Division II-AAA — McCallie's B.J. Harris and Baylor's Elijah Howard — are joined by McMinn County running back Jalen Hunt (Class 6A), Meigs County running back Will Meadows (2A) and South Pittsburg teammates Hunter Frame (running back) and Jared Stone (offensive lineman and linebacker) in 1A.
Thursday's announcement of the semifinalists for the Tennessee honors were made with the regular season having finished last week and the playoffs set to begin.
Harris, who has committed to Missouri, has rushed for 1,118 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, while Howard, who has committed to Tennessee, has gained 688 total yards and scored six touchdowns in just six games. Harris has been steady all season, rushing for at least 100 yards in seven of the Blue Tornado's eight games, including 206 against Calhoun, while Howard has rushed for a combined 525 in his past three games since bouncing back from an injury.
Hunt, who has committed to Western Carolina, leads the state with 2,161 rushing yards on 193 carries with 24 touchdowns, having averaged 11 yards per carry. He also owns program records with 5,464 career rushing yards and 57 touchdowns, and he has eight career interceptions on defense.
"He's as good as any player we've faced since I've been coaching," said Bradley Central coach Damon Floyd, whose team has gone against Hunt the past four seasons. "And he never comes off the field. He's out there on defense and even special teams. He's even blocking on their extra-point team. You can see how fast he is, but he's also really strong and tough to bring down."
Even before being asked to become a leader this season, Meadows has grown up knowing what it's like to live up to a high standard on the field. His dad, Gary, was an all-state player in the early 1990s and still ranks third in state history with 7,995 career all-purpose yards.
Needing a player to fill the void after the graduation of three-time Mr. Football finalist Aaron Swafford, who helped lead Meigs County to the Class 2A title game last year, Meadows has become a team leader who has helped the Tigers to an unbeaten regular season and a No. 2 ranking in the state by rushing for 1,235 yards and 20 touchdowns in eight games.
"Last year we could depend on Aaron for everything, and I knew I had to step up and become that guy this season," said Meadows, who is part of a senior class that has gone 39-1 in the regular season in its four years. "Good programs reload, they don't rebuild, and that's what we've done. Honestly, we didn't like hearing people before the season saying we wouldn't be as good, so we've played with something to prove."
In seven games, Frame has rushed for 1,204 yards, averaging an eye-catching 15.6 yards per carry, with 23 touchdowns, and he is closing in on 3,000 career yards. Fellow senior Stone was an all-state offensive lineman last season, and he is grading out at 93% as a blocker with 16 pancakes this year; from his linebacker spot, he is the Pirates' second-leading tackler with 53 solo stops and four for loss.
"I don't know of two guys on our team who are better examples of our program," Pirates coach Vic Grider said. "Both have worked their way up to be where they are in our lineup and have played a lot of quality snaps, and now they're reaping the benefits of their work.
"Jared is the guy who sets the tone for us up front. He's added some good weight and gotten significantly stronger and is just a hard-nosed, tough and coachable guy who brings it every play.
"We always knew that Hunter could be an exceptional player, but he had some nagging injuries that held him back. What he's averaging every carry is just unheard of. He's got a lot of God-given ability to do things with his feet and speed that most can't, but Hunter also takes a lot of pride in being a complete player. It's easy to see what he does with the ball in his hands, but he's also a really good blocker and is a guy who can play at a high level for a lot of schools."