(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
Luckily for the New Madrid County Central Eagles (9-2), they have more than one tailback that can break off a huge gain or convert on 3rd-and-short to keep a drive going.
Bryan Waters, who is one of NMCC's go-to guys on the ground, said that there is full confidence in any player that carries the ball for the Eagles.
That's what they have done all season long and what they continued to do in their 28-19 win against the Potosi Trojans (8-3) on Wednesday night during the Class 3 regional playoff round at New Madrid County Central.
"They've (NMCC) got four backs that they can throw in at anytime and they don't lose a beat with any of them," Potosi head coach Mark Casey said. "When they get you out flanked, it's hard to really close down on them and get them to force it back inside. They're probably the deepest running back team in the state of Missouri I believe."
Waters led the charge with 159 yards on 24 carries for the Eagles. He also found the end zone on three occasions with two 9-yard runs in the first half and a 20-yard run that was filled with broken tackles in the fourth quarter.
G'Darius Stevenson, another dangerous running back for the Eagles, carried the ball 18 times for 70 yards. He also picked up a crucial kickoff return in the second half when the Trojans tried for their fourth onside kick attempt. Stevenson picked up the short kick and continued up the field for a 34-yard return.
Rodney Anderson also piled on 56 yards on nine attempts while quarterback Dontre Jenkins rushed for 23 yards on nine attempts and rushed for a 4-yard touchdown as well.
"With their quickness, you kind of have to pick your poison," Casey said about the Eagles offensive attack. "You've got to try and contain the outside, but yet stop the run up the middle, but yet stop the pass. It's kind of one of those things they stretch you out thin and you just have to hope you can cover all bases."
Even with the talent displayed in their running back core and the offense in general, most Eagles that play on the offensive side of the ball also play on the defensive side as well -- which is just as fast and just as talented.
NMCC's defense proved just that when it put a big damper on the running game of Potosi's featured back, Brandon Bourbon, in the second half.
Bourbon finished with a total of 233 yards which were mostly gained in the first half on two huge touchdown runs. His first score was the very first play from scrimmage that went for 73 yards. Bourbon's second was a 70-yard touchdown run.
He totaled 189 yards in the first half while getting 44 in the second.
Conditioning is what Waters said was the difference in the two halves and the containment on Bourbon.
"We had to go through a lot of conditioning to get ready for this game," Waters said. "For us to play both sides like that, we have to have the conditioning. We stepped up at times when we needed to step up."
Whether it's a dangerous running game or a just as dangerous defense, NMCC is hoping that it's performance from this game will duplicate itself on Monday when they face another highly touted offensive team in Ste. Genevieve.
Waters believes the difference will be defense.
"It's going to have to be all defense," Waters said. "Defense wins games."