Friday Night Hero: South Rowan’s Deandre Harris
By Mike London
LANDIS ó “Let the puppy eat,” South Rowan assistant Brian Blackwell growled during the second half of Friday’s 15-6 victory against Carson, and everyone on the sideline knew what the big man meant.
The “puppy” was 190-pound junior running back Deandre Harris, who took a handoff from quarterback Blake Houston on every single snap of South’s last two clock-killing possessions.
Harris went right, went left, went between the tackles, but he always went forward.
Moving right along with Harris were the chains and the clock.
Harris’ final stats weren’t record-breaking or earthshaking ó 23 carries, 110 yards, two TDs. His longest run was 12 yards, but South’s “puppy” and his blockers put a pivotal game in the win column.
“There was a point where we just said, ‘Here he comes. Stop him,’ ” assistant coach Steve London explained. “They didn’t stop him. Deandre’s a strong kid and he runs hard.”
South head coach Jason Rollins spent August talking up a new triple-option offense. South works on the triple-option every day at practice, but it’s not a polished product yet.
“There are three parts to our offensive package,” London said. “There’s the option, there’s the pass, and there’s power. Carson was very well-prepared and did a great job taking away the option. We threw it OK, but we didn’t catch it.
“That left power.”
Give South credit. You ride what’s working, and what’s working best right now is the power game.
No-frills power earned South Rowan a second-half comeback it couldn’t quite finish against West Iredell two weeks ago, and power finished off Carson.
“I think everyone understands we’ve got a good defense,” Rollins said. “But our defense benefits from our offense keeping guys off the field by eating the clock and getting first downs. Even if we don’t score, we’re usually moving the ball and giving the defense a rest.”
Harris is a talented guy who first made a name for himself with huge games as a jayvee ninth-grader.
As a sophomore, he joined a crowded varsity backfield.
“Josh Wike was the running back,” Harris said. “But as the season went on, I got it more and more, I guess.”
Harris rushed for 107 yards against West Iredell in South’s fifth game, and he shared the load with Wike, who is one year older, from that point. Harris finished his sophomore season as South’s leading rusher with 153 carries for 624 yards. Wike had 130 for 529.
Wike, 175 pounds, has speed and contributes on offense, defense and special teams, but when it’s time for power, Harris is the guy.
He’s the bigger back.
“I can’t say enough about Wike,” London said. “He came up to me during Friday’s game and said, ‘I don’t care if I get the ball or not. Just let me block. I want to knock some heads off for Deandre.’ ”
Obviously, South (2-4, 2-2) needs both Harris and Wike playing well to win.
“They’re two good kids,” Rollins said. “They’re probably also the two quietest running backs in the county. Both can go a practice without saying five words.”
Harris keeps some stuff inside, but he offered the right answer when coaches asked him if he was ready to shoulder the offensive load last week.
“Coach London asked me at the start of the second half, ‘Can you handle it?’ ” Harris said. “I told him I could handle it. We all wanted to beat Carson.”
South let the puppy eat.