Oct. 13—It didn't take long into the season for South Aiken head football coach Chris Hamilton to think there had to be something else there with Jevon Edwards.
Freshmen don't typically display his level of maturity, nor are freshman running backs that patient with the ball in their hands to wait for the offensive linemen to set up the blocks. And it's a rarity that they're this productive this early at a level as high as Class AAAA football.
Hamilton may have caught himself wondering if Edwards was real, which is a luxury for he and his assistants who know they have another three years with him.
And it's a nightmare for opposing coaches who have only just seen the beginning.
Edwards' latest game was the best of his young career, as he accounted for 329 yards of total offense and scored twice in a 27-14 win last Thursday at Class AAAAA River Bluff. He carried the ball 21 times for 238 yards and a touchdown, and he caught two passes for 91 yards and another score on his way to earning Aiken Standard Player of the Week honors.
"It was one of those nights where things were just working out for him," Hamilton said. "That's kind of been coming, and you've kind of seen glimpses of it. I guess it was kind of his coming out party as far as letting everybody know he's a big-time ball player.
"He's just a freshman. You'd never know that kid is as good as he is just by the way he acts and how he carries himself. He's just an outstanding kid, great student, does the things the right way, works his tail off. He was right back Sunday ready to go to work. It's a pleasure to coach him."
Edwards has already rushed for 100 or more yards in a game four times this season for the 4-1 T-Breds, who are riding a four-game winning streak heading into Friday's Region 5-AAAA clash at North Augusta. For the season, he's rushed for 614 yards and six scores on 75 carries.
"Man, it's the O line. Those dudes are working hard every day," Edwards said Wednesday at practice. "They're steady working every day — new stuff, new plays. They're getting stronger. I feel like our chemistry, that's what really makes them want to see me succeed and them succeed, as well."
Hamilton agreed that he's noticed how much the linemen love blocking for Edwards, who bypasses everyone else after a touchdown to celebrate with his blockers.
Edwards considers his strongest traits as a runner to be his patience, vision and trust in his linemen — again, unusual remarks from a freshman, especially considering how in so many cases it takes more than just a few weeks to adjust from playing in middle school to starting on varsity.
A lot of that has come from how hard Edwards has worked in practice to develop those skills while absorbing the new complexities of a high school offense. During that, he's also formed a bond and earned trust from his older teammates.
"The guys are good. They might pick on me a little bit, you know, because I'm a freshman. When we play, it's like we connect. We've got a lot of chemistry," he said, then followed up with a smile. "... They're stronger than me, so they might push me around a little bit in the locker room and stuff. But they're cool."
His first score against River Bluff was on a 70-yard catch that tied the game at 7 apiece in the second quarter. The Gators' linebacker didn't initially bite on the play, so Edwards expected quarterback Terrence Smith to run it himself rather than throw it over the middle.
"He stepped up into the pocket, the linebacker came up, and then I saw the ball there," he said. "I ain't going to lie, I didn't even know if I was going to catch it because I was not paying attention. But then I caught it, and then it was a safety and a cornerback on the left side, and I just blew past them."
His second touchdown, a 66-yarder early in the fourth quarter, gave the T-Breds a two-score lead at 20-7. Hamilton said that was probably Edwards' best run on a night full of good ones, and it showcased Edwards' patience. He took the handoff and waited for right tackle Ashley Yaughn to come across to the left side, followed behind him and exploded through the gap to break free.
"He'll wait for that block to happen, and when it does that's when he hits it," Hamilton. "It's a pretty sweet thing to watch, especially as an old offensive lineman. I enjoy guys that will let us get a block and then hit it. He's fun to watch."