Southlake Carroll couldn’t stop Midway’s James Fullbright.

La Vega played keep-away from Liberty Hill behind its three-headed monster running attack with Cameron Henry, John Richards and Kemoche Hobbs.

Mart made a statement as its run game dominated in yet another landslide victory for the Panthers, this time over Crawford, as Shatydrick Bailey and Tyrek Horne were practically uncatchable.

Each of these three teams excelled in the run to advance to the state semifinals this weekend. For those who are just now starting to pay attention in the playoffs, the numbers these guys put up over the weekend are on the verge of jaw dropping, given the stage they’re on the efficiency at which they’re performing. But for those to whom these young men are home town heroes, these stats are per usual.

The rush attack for each of these three teams has been no short of special all season. And if it wasn’t apparent in the state quarterfinals, it’s a big reason why they are all three still playing with merely two weeks left in the high school football season.

Mart

Tyrek Horne should be a 2,000-yard rusher on the season this time next week, win or lose. He’s up to 1,981 total rushing yards on the season so far, with nine games where he ran for more than 100 yards.

And then there’s Shatydrick Bailey who, if he goes for his average from the past two contests, would be just shy of 1,000 yards in a week’s time. Bailey, who has 81 fewer carries than Horne on the year, has nearly half of his total yards at 848.

Bailey recently broke out with 100-plus yard rushing performances in the playoffs. He’s run for 130 against Goldthwaite, 108 against Windthorst, 143 against DeLeon and 141 against Crawford.

Whoever it is carrying the ball for Mart — Horne or Bailey — they’re both averaging better than 15 yards per carry. Statistically speaking, that’s a guaranteed first down when they’re handed the football.

In Thursday’s win over Crawford, both of them showed off their speed as Horne had a touchdown of 62 yards and Bailey had a score of 78. On each of those scores, once they broke through the line of scrimmage, there was no stopping them.

When asked after the game who was the faster between the two, Mart coach Kevin Hoffman laughed and shook his head when he said to ask them. But then, he went on to say: “If I had to bet on somebody, I’d bet on No. 2 (Bailey).”

But the beauty of this Mart run attack is that if Horne and/or Bailey is ever contained, the Panthers have other options to go to. Like quarterback Jace Terry who showed off his wheels on Thursday with 137 yards and three touchdowns of 41, 30 and 55 yards.

While each back is talented for the Mart team, it’s the play of the offensive line that makes the interchanging pieces in the backfield remain as threatening as the one before.

“That’s the key,” Hoffman said. “If you can win the battle up front, you’re going to have a chance to win a lot of games. Our offensive line does the little things to get our guys, who can run and do some things, get them into space and get them going.”

La Vega

The Pirates have dominated the ground game all year long. They’ve got three different running backs to rotate throughout a game — Cameron Henry, Kemoche Hobbs and John Richards.

And it’s a balanced attack with this trio. Need stats to back that up? Henry has been the Pirates’ leading rusher for five games, as has Richards, while Hobbs has been the leading rusher for four games.

“John can take it the distance,” La Vega head coach WIllie Williams said. “You’ve got Kemoche, who had vision, who can make you miss and a heck of a runner. Cameron Henry, you know, he’s the bell cow. All of them have over 1,000 yards.”

A year ago, La Vega averaged 330 yards per game on the ground. The top seven Pirate rushers returned this season and, behind 113 yards from Henry, continued to ground and pound with 345 of their total 464 yards coming on the ground.

And that’s been the case for most of the season, with the exception of the passing game breaking out against Gatesville in November.

Most recently, the Pirates ran for 375 yards in its state quarterfinal win over Liberty Hill with John Richards going off for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

While these three pick up all the yards, its quarterback Jamal Williams who makes it all go.

The senior, who has been the varsity starter since midway through his freshman year, is 47-3 in his career. That ties Bremond’s Rashauud Paul’s win total. But if the Waco Trib’s research efforts prove true, Williams is short of Richland Springs’ Tyler Ethridge who went 56-1 as a starter from 2004-07 with three state titles.

So between Williams and the trio of running backs, there’s plenty of talent in the backfield. But it’s been the offensive line that’s paved the way for all of their successes.

“They just do their job,” Williams said. “Everybody knows we’re a zone scheme. We’re going to get a hat on a hat and we create some seams and let our guys go to work.”

Midway

Fullbright likes to think of himself as resilient. He watches a lot of Walter Payton and tries to run like him. It explains a lot, actually, when you watch Fullbright rumble down the field, breaking tackles and running over defenders.

“He gets those tough yards,” Midway head football coach Jeff Hulme said. “You think he’s only going to get one yard and next thing you know it’s 2nd-and-5.”

Fullbright is a powerful runner. The Southlake Carroll defenders struggled to bring him down Saturday night at McLane Stadium. Two weeks ago at AT&T Stadium, Fullbright literally ran out of the arms of a Byron Nelson defender and into the end zone. it’s that resiliency. Other running backs would be taken down but Fullbright continues to power for as many more yards as he can get.

“He’s a stud,” Midway quarterback Tanner Mordecai said. “He’s being overlooked because they say he’s too short. But that dude has the biggest heart I’ve ever been around. Great kid and an even better running back.”

So far, the junior has put together eight games where he rushed for more than 100 yards as he’s racked up 1,696 total rushing yards.

Hulme has referred to Fullbright as the same thing all season long — a bowling ball. It makes perfect sense, especially if you watch carefully as the third and fourth quarters wear on. As Hulme put it, the other team gets “tired of tackling him.”

That helped the Panthers finish off Southlake Carroll after the Dragons tied the game at 21 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. Fullbright scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that put Midway up by two touchdowns less than four minutes later.

As Fullbright picks up all the yards, he points all the credit toward his offensive line. And he’s got one of the best in the area with three different linemen committed to Division I programs — Hakeem White to Texas Tech, Kaitori Leveston to Kansas State and Daizion Carroll to North Texas.

“They’re an amazing group of men,” Fullbright said. “Three committing to Division I schools and then you’ve got David Priebe (SMU commit) at tight end. That’s four D-I players blocking. It’s hard not to get yards when you have that line.”

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