Huntingdon counting on trio of running backs

Sophomore Eric Thomas (#1) is one of three returning running backs with game experience. Thomas and juniors Dontavion Cunningham and Kobe Smith combined for 1,157 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Sophomore Eric Thomas (#1) is one of three returning running backs with game experience. Thomas and juniors Dontavion Cunningham and Kobe Smith combined for 1,157 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

Head Coach Mike Turk on the first scrimmage of the preseason: "The scrimmage went OK. We were able to get about 40-45 plays with both the first and second teams, which is about what we wanted. That was good, but we were very inconsistent on both sides of the ball.

"Offensively, we left a lot of plays out there with dropped balls, misfires on throws, bad reads, etc. We turned the ball over several times, which was good for the defense but bad for the offense. For the most part, the defense controlled things pretty well but we still gave up some big plays and did some things that will kill you in a game.

"We're not where we need to be but we're still grinding away at it and trying to get better every day."

 

Position Spotlight – Running Backs

 

Projected Starter:  Eric Thomas (So.)

Others to Watch: Dontavion Cunningham (Jr.), Kobe Smith (Jr.), Lexie Shaw (So.)

 

A Closer Look: Huntingdon has to replace first-team All-Conference selection Vic Jerald, the program's third all-time leading rusher. But the Hawks return three running backs with experience in sophomore Eric Thomas and juniors Dontavion Cunningham and Kobe Smith.

Thomas is the frontrunner in the preseason but the Hawks have confidence in all three backs. The trio combined for 1,157 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

Thomas finished with 307 yards and two touchdowns in six games, including a career-high 161 yards and a touchdown against Methodist. Cunningham finished with 436 yards and eight touchdowns last season and Smith had 414 yards and a touchdown.

In addition to the returning players, Lexie Shaw is emerging from the newcomers.

 

Turk on the Hawks' returning running backs: "All three of them are experienced guys and all three of them have helped us win games. They each have things they need to work on and improve on, but they're all solid guys we can count on and trust. All three are working hard and there is competition every day. We feel like we can have success with any of them in the game."

Turk on the experience at running back: "These guys have been here and they understand the fine details on how to play the position. As a result, they're very efficient in the running game. They know how to find the hole and go where they need to."

Next Practice: The Hawks return to the field at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Practices are open to the public.