Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2007
The Selma Times-Journal
As in wrecks defensive game plans.
Wrecks attempts at tackles in the backfield.
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T-Ray Mitchell has, by far, been the biggest thing going for Selma this year.
Funny thing is, he didn’t ever think he was going to be the feature back in the Saints’ offense.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be the starter,” said Mitchell. “The starter got hurt, and I just did what I had to do. I’m feeling good. I’m getting better, and maybe colleges will start looking at me more.”
Mitchell got more responsibility when tailback Rakeem Moore was injured more than a month ago, and he hasn’t disappointed.
Mitchell has rushed for 836 yards with seven touchdowns and is averaging 10 yards per carry. That includes a career best 314 rushing yards and five total touchdowns
– including a 67-yard return for a score – in last week’s loss to Stanhope Elmore.
Saints coach Brian Montgomery wasn’t quite as surprised about Mitchell’s success.
“It was a wide open competition for the spot before the season,” Montgomery said. “We had three different types of runners back there. Rakeem was a pure speed guy we’d give the ball to and let turn the corner. T-Ray was the guy that could make people miss, and (fullback) Justin (Moorer-Jones) was our 3-yard banger.
“It was just all about convincing T-Ray he could outrun people, and now he’s doing that. He’s had it in him all along.”
The Saints (3-3, 1-3 6A Region 4) are billed to be a balanced offense, but right now they have a ground attack that is dominating the game plan.
Ground, air – it doesn’t matter to Mitchell as long as the Saints get to the postseason.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” he said. “The run game may be working one game, but the passing game may be working the next game. It just takes time to work out. Right now, we’ve got to get to the playoffs. These next few games are going to determine whether we do that.”
Consistency will also determine that. What looked like a sure win last week slipped through Selma’s hands three turnovers later.
Quarterback Keaton Spears made the start for Justin Brown, who was out with an illness.
Spears had mixed reviews about his first game as the starter.
“It was bad because of the interceptions, but it was good seeing T-Ray run,” Spears said. “I just need to think before I do stuff. J.B. has been right in my ear guiding me, telling me what I need to learn from. He’s like a mentor. I don’t have to rely on passing on all the time or scrambling. I can hand the ball off and just watch.”
The Saints will get another shot to make their new backfield work when they take on Wetumpka (5-1, 3-1) on the road Friday night.
Montgomery called it a winnable game as long as his team keeps on doing what it’s done best.
“We’re just going to run the ball and see if they can tackle us,” he said.