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Mr. Buddy Garrity
04-27-2005, 09:41 AM
RB battle heats up for Titans
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By Dave Rogers - The News staff writer Posted: 04/27/05 - 12:29:46 am CDT

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They've been searching high and low at Memorial's spring football drills, but two days into the four weeks of after-school drills, no one has laid eyes on Jamaal Charles or James Johnson, the two Titan running backs who have led District 22-5A in rushing each of the past three seasons.

So they're settling for the next best thing.

"A guy like Orrian Spriggs, he has the running style like James Johnson," Memorial running back coach Joseph Smith says, referring to the 2002 Titan rushing leader who was a junior-college All-American last year.

"Joe Lindley's got the jitterbug moves just like Tony Tompkins," the former Thomas Jefferson standout who was all-Southland Conference for Stephen F. Austin last fall.

"You're not going to find a Jamaal every day. He's just a unique guy."


But there's someone taking snaps out there that looks a little like Charles, the high school All-American runner who's headed to the University of Texas.

It's Jacovin Buckner, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound sophomore-to-be.

"He has good size and the good body lean than you look for," Titans' head coach Dean Colbert says. "He can run it up in there strong, and he'll get stronger and bigger."

Currently, it's a four-horse race to fill the shoes of Charles, who rushed for 4,069 yards and 47 touchdowns the past two seasons.

Spriggs, a 5-8, 165-pounder, is a senior-to-be. Lindley, 5-8, 155, is a junior-to-be. Buckner is one of two ninth-graders getting a look at running back. The other is Patterson Clay, 5-7 and 160.

Senior-to-be Sterling Mobley, expected to challenge for the job, hasn't been able to practice because of a hamstring injury. Mobley sat out all of last season with a leg injury.

Robert Joseph, Memorial's backup tailback and No. 2 rusher last season when he picked up 231 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries, is working at quarterback this spring. The only tailback on the field with any other varsity carries is Lindley, who had one tote for one yard in mop-up duty

against Baytown Sterling.

But the Titan coaches hardly seem worried.

"I've got a feeling that Port Arthur is always going to put out good running backs," says Smith, an assistant at Stephen F. Austin and TJ before the creation of Memorial. "Its always has.

"We're going to be all right once we get some days like this."

Having an unknown commodity at running back is a bit unusual at Memorial, but not unheard of.

When the school was formed in 2002 by the consolidation of Austin, Lincoln and Jefferson high schools, Johnson was coming off a season at TJ in which he'd been named co-MVP of District 20-4A.

He gained 1,213 yards and scored a dozen touchdowns to lead the Titans' first squad.

By all rights, Charles should have been the heir apparent in 2003, but a hand injury kept him from getting a carry as a sophomore in 2002 and he missed all but the final week of spring training in 2003 because he was on Memorial's state track champion 800-meter relay squad.

"Jamaal missed spring training and he really didn't get going until the West Brook game," Smith recalls of the 2003 season. "He really turned it on in the playoffs."

Charles rushed for 267 yards against West Brook, Memorial's final regular-season opponent in 2003. Then he proceeded to gain 684 more yards in the Titans' three playoff games, finishing his junior season with 2,015 yards and 22 TDs overland.

Last fall, after sitting out the first two games of the year while rehabbing from summer shoulder surgery, Charles rushed for 2,054 yards and 25 TDs in nine games.

How do you replace running backs like Johnson and Charles?

"I think we have some more coming up, I really do," Colbert says. "We're just going to keep giving everyone equal reps until somebody takes the lead.

"I see some good things, some qualities that James Johnson and Jamaal Charles had. I don't think any of them have the great speed Jamaal had, but other things like good vision, the ability to work hard, we have that.

Colbert says between 150 and 165 players in grades nine through 11 are taking part in Memorial's spring training.

The Titans' first day of practice Monday took place in a drenching rain.

"We got real wet," Colbert said after Tuesday's drills. "Today, it was a lot better. It was easier to see and we were able to film (practice). Traction was a lot better.

"But (Monday) was pretty intense, too."








We also have 3 WR's that should be better than the 2003 WR's. I'm telling ya if they let Robert Joseph loose at QB and shore up the o-line I think the only team on our schedule that can beat us is the PACK. period. :D Does Longview have an extra scrimmage??? :rolleyes:

I've seen the kid that they are talking about. I'll just say Jamaal will be missed but we have a stud in the making that should break his records by the time he's done at MHS.

pack0808
04-27-2005, 09:53 AM
they need to get a defense first scooter.

Mr. Buddy Garrity
04-27-2005, 10:10 AM
they need to get a defense first scooter.
I didn't say anything of the defense because the "D" will be above average this year for a Memorial team. I'm finally gonna get to see some 3 and outs....YEAH! :) The offense is what everybody's worried about. Just hope Colbert doesn't mess things up this year. I hope he goes with the spread more this year than in the past. It worked in 2003 he got away from it this past year (partially cause we had Jamaal). We'll see what happens when we play that other Tyler team, I forgot what their name is. :)

PantherPack
04-27-2005, 10:23 AM
Panther 63 Memorial 3. That's my prediction scooter.

Mr. Buddy Garrity
04-27-2005, 10:59 AM
Panther 63 Memorial 3. That's my prediction scooter.
I really hope you're joking cause that's not gonna happen...LOL