RED SPRINGS — Behind every good running back, or in front of for that matter, is a good offensive line.
That is what Jayshawn Carthen credits for his success this season as he leads all rushers in Robeson County.
“It started with the offensive line. They have been working hard this summer,” Carthen said. “They have been working together and making holes, my power backs are leading for me and I’m seeing the holes and hitting them.
“Being able to work with them in the summertime, they have worked with me so we can come together.”
Behind an offensive line that returns all its starters from last season made up of all seniors, Carthen has found holes in the line and burst through them for 301 yards and three touchdowns through the first two games of the year.
“We sat down and talked to him before the season, and we asked him to take on a different kind of workload. He’s happily taken it on,” Ches said. “It’s 100 percent the offensive line. That offensive line is the strongest and most cohesive unit on the team. They are selfless and the heart and soul of this team.”
Carthen takes over the running game for Lee McLean, who rushed for 1,500 yards a season ago as a sophomore. McLean tore his ACL before the season started, but stepping into the role as the lead back for the power-run Red Devils was something Carthen was ready for.
“I was thinking back to Salisbury,” Carthen said of his thoughts when he was told of McLean’s injury. “I had to step up and run then. I just thought about last year and how I had to step up as a senior and do what I had to do.”
The Salisbury game that Carthen eluded to was the first round of the state playoffs last year on the road. Carthen came into the backfield when McLean went down with a sprained ankle, and backup running back Nichorie West was sidelined with an injury later in the game.
He produced 60 yards on 12 carries in his first action out of the backfield last season.
With the size that Red Springs features up front, and its lead-blocking fullbacks, it’s offensive style running the ball can be characterized as “smash mouth,” but that type of running doesn’t typically come from a 5-foot-6, 150-pound running back. That’s where Carthen’s mentality comes in.
“We go straight up the middle, right at teams,” Carthen said. “We don’t push it away from them, run sweeps, we run at teams. Coach told me to keep my mouth closed and do what I do with my pads.”
“I drop my shoulder and run head up against them.”
The Red Devils start Three Rivers Conference play Friday against run-heavy South Columbus at home in a meeting of two teams that have conference titles on their minds.
“If we beat South Columbus, I feel like we can beat any team in this conference,” he said. “Our big goal is to stop South Columbus’ run game so we can beat them.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.