Photo by Brian Paglia / Dutchtown junior running back Will Smith has proven the Bulldogs are more than just quarterback Donovahn Jones. Smith has rushed for 342 yards and four touchdowns in three games this season.
Where were these guys a year ago?
They were junior varsity standouts. They were varsity understudies. They were just another local high school football player.
Now, they’re making their presence known.
Over the course of the first four weeks of the season, several players in Henry County have started to emerge from anonymity into key cogs for their team.
Here are five players you may not have known coming into the season but appear poised to have a bright future:
Davis Carrandi, ELCA: About the only thing the Chargers were missing last season was a dangerous receiving threat, a la Christian Reeves circa 2010. The Chargers found one right away this season. Making his first varsity start, Carrandi had nine catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns in ELCA’s 24-19 season-opening loss to Washington County, which is ranked No. 4 in Class AAA. Carrandi hasn’t stopped producing since — the junior 6-foot wideout has 380 receiving yards and five touchdowns in four games and looks like he could develop into a Division I prospect.
Bradley Dewberry, Eagle’s Landing: After three years of stability at quarterback, Eagle’s Landing went into this season handing the keys of a new offense to Dewberry, a junior moving up from junior varsity. But Dewberry has thrived under new offensive coordinator Rex Robertson. Overlook Eagle’s Landing’s 0-3 start for a minute, because Dewberry has thrown for 485 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 134 more, leading an offense that’s averaging 29.7 points per game.
Corey Holloway, Eagle’s Landing: Golden Eagles coach Joe Teknipp said Holloway had a “solid season” last year, “but not breakout.” Then came Eagle’s Landing’s season-opener at Lamar County, the No. 7 team in Class AA coached by former Tucker head coach Franklin Stephens. Holloway rushed 22 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns and he hasn’t slowed down since. He’s rushed for 433 yards and five touchdowns on 50 attempts; that’s an average of 144.3 yards per game for the junior running back.
Will Smith, Dutchtown: This is what Dutchtown does — it finds running backs. Smith was the heir apparent last season after scoring 20 touchdowns as a freshman on junior varsity. But he was a sidekick to Bulldogs quarterback Donovahn Jones, who led the team in rushing. That’s begun to shift this season. The junior has strength, speed and shiftiness that belies his diminutive size, and his stats are looking large — 342 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries.
Garrett Wallace, Locust Grove: Go ahead, defenses, keep paying attention to Wildcats quarterback Keenan Wise and wide receiver Cortez McDowell. Go ahead and forget all about Wallace, a junior fullback. He’ll just get his 7.6 yards per carry, like he has the past two games now that he’s fully healthy. In those two games — both Locust Grove victories — Wallace has rushed for 191 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns, giving the Wildcats yet another offensive weapon to add to their inventory.