Player of the Week: Warhorses' Smith punishes Red Raiders

·4 min read

Sep. 7—Tyler Smith has set the bar high over his last season and change running the football for Barnwell.

It's to the point that a 200-yard, multi-touchdown performance by the Warhorses' senior running back doesn't really turn heads anymore, just because he's made it such a common occurrence.

That's a good thing for Barnwell but obviously not for whichever defense is tasked with trying to contain him, and this past Friday Bamberg-Ehrhardt found out the hard way that he's not slowing down after rushing for more than 2,000 yards a year ago.

It's always a physical confrontation when Barnwell and Bamberg-Ehrhardt meet, and that's where Smith thrives. He rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and added a 20-yard touchdown pass in a 35-7 win to move the third-ranked Warhorses to 3-0, and for that he's the Aiken Standard Player of the Week.

"He's a steady guy. ... He's a workhorse kind of guy. The more you give it to him, the better he is," said Barnwell head coach Dwayne Garrick. "He loves contact. He's one of those guys we really have to tell sometimes to try to avoid them, but he tries to run them up out there, especially in space. He's a big, physical kid. He's strong."

Barnwell's offensive line wears down opposing defenses throughout a game, leaning on them and punishing them to where they'll wilt later in the night. That it's Smith routinely hammering away at them makes it that much more difficult to withstand.

"Play after play, knowing that you have to bring down a 210-pound kid that runs hard, you've got to put several on him and over time it wears you down," Garrick said. "We call it slow drip. It's just a slow drip and then, bam, we're going to pop one big. We've got some edge plays with him, too, that gets him out in space. I just hope we can keep him healthy and keep him rolling and see how far this thing can go."

One of the many examples of Smith's strength — Garrick said he's seen him bench 360 pounds and squat more than 500 — as a runner came on one of his touchdown runs against Bamberg-Ehrhardt. He took the handoff at the 15-yard line and disappeared into the scrum, only to emerge behind everyone as he crossed the goal line.

"We tried to run a quick blast, I think, off the left side. He's hemmed up, looks like about nine or 10 guys, all of the sudden he just pops out the middle and he's gone," Garrick said. "That's because of his leg strength and leg drive."

Smith is just as effective for the Warhorses in single-back sets as he is when they get into the Wishbone, and he catches the ball well out of the backfield. He's the type of player that would trade all of his gaudy statistics for wins, and he displayed that mentality in the first half of last season when he also played practically every snap on defense and special teams in addition to all of those physical runs.

The Warhorses have the luxury this season of having him set in a role "just" as being the guy who carries it 25 times a game — and through three games he's averaging 10.2 yards per carry for a total of 602 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 60 attempts.

But there's also another way he can torment defenses that the Warhorses just haven't shown yet. They offered a glimpse in the 20-yard touchdown pass he threw to Clay Pender on Friday.

"We haven't used it yet, but we've got a little Wildcat package for him," Garrick said. "He spins the ball pretty good. We threw the little quick pitch pass from him to Clay the other night. We've been working on that for a while. He obviously spins the ball pretty good."

That's even worse news for teams that already knew they were in for a long night facing Smith and Barnwell's high-powered offense. Since the start of last season he's rushed for 2,763 yards, leaving him 237 away from 3,000.

Or, in other words, a normal night for him.