Defending our selections: The Running Backs

Okay guys, these are also the glory boys, and in a lot of offensive schemes in the Commonwealth, more so than even the QB. The great Barry Sanders once said…If you’re a good size and a good athlete, you can be whatever type of runner you want. Well, we picked kids here that have shown in middle school that what ever type of running back they have elected to be, they have certainly been successful at it. For running backs we look for kids who were strong with the football and attacked the line of scrimmage, bursting through to the defense’s second level before looking to do a little shake and bake. On the middle school level, one of the hardest things to get coached out of the Junior Pro superstars you routinely inherit is the junior pro running-back’s belief he can only make yardage sweeping the end before stepping out of bounds avoiding the hit. Running backs like that don’t succeed in either middle school or high school football because every team you face has that player who was his league’s top athlete. Suddenly, we learn little boo-boo ain’t the fastest kid in the game, much less the league, anymore. We looked for one-cut, down-hillers willing to square up the defender and run him over more so than someone looking to hit the outside running lane and slide safely out of bounds ahead of contact. These three backs here have plenty of separation speed coupled with the ability to run over would-be tacklers or run away from would-be tacklers, whatever the situations requires. We also looked for running backs who carried out their fakes, full-speed, were accomplished at picking up blitzes, and could catch the football out of the backfield and create scoring opportunities for the offense in the short passing game coupling good hands with a running backs’ moves and vision. We were looking for complete backs, we landed on these three. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your KPGFootball, Middle School, All-Staters at the below detailed positions…

Taylor County Middle School, Kaden Smith, 6-0, 200 pounds, RB;

Kaden Smith’s coach in middle school at Taylor County was Marlon Hoskins. Hoskins described Smith to our selection committee as being a hard nose kid to whom the game just comes naturally. He is a long, athletic kid with great hands who can either run over or around you. When asked about his versatility, Hoskins in reference to Kaden Smith said…we were able to align him at wide-receiver and he proved just as dangerous as he was in our backfield. Smith was injured late in the yer and had to miss the conference championship game and the state playoff run. If you are wondering how you get over losing a 6-0, 200 pound running-back who is equally dangerous in the run and throw game the answer is you don’t, nor can you. In Coach Hoskins exact words…when he got hurt, we were done…that’s how good he was. Smith, like so many other All-Staters on this team, played on both sides of the ball, leading the team offensively and defensively. Smith has been called a go to guy and a player whom always played hard. We were able to talk with Team Kentucky’s FBU National Championship tournament head coach G.J. Wooldridge, himself the head coach at North Pulaski whom he has taken to back to back, Division I, state championship games, and he confirmed for us Smith made the Team Kentucky select squad but backed out of competing, something which G.J. greatly bemoaned. Coach Woolridge’s assessment of our All-State running back was the following…Kaden Smith is a grown man, probably one of the best two or so running backs in the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky’s 2023 prospect class. If there is anyone who would be able to speak on that topic with authority it would be Team Kentucky’s head coach. Our selection committee felt strongly this was a no-brainer selection to this Middle School All-State Football team. So, we selected him.

Johnson County Middle School, Mason Lawson, 6-0, 160 pounds, RB;

Lawson is a two-time Team Kentucky FBU player who has lead Kentucky to the National Tournament on two occasions and plays running back. As a eighth grader, he led State Champion (8th grade team), Johnson County in both rushing and tackles. As an eighth grader he led his middle school team to its second, consecutive Division I, State Football Championship. Lawson is approximately 6-0 and weighs about 160 pounds and according to Coach G.J. Wooldridge, whom coached the North Pulaski team Johnson County has beaten in two straight championships, Lawson has played a major roll in beating the Maroons two years straight. Coach Wooldridge told us, if the Lawson kid doesn’t show us all of his 34 inch vertical in climbing the latter and picking off one of our passes late in the game, we probably win the Championship. That play beat us, and you had to be Mason Lawson to make it. Coach Wooldridge has referred to Mason Lawson as perhaps the best football player in the middle school game presently anywhere in Kentucky. That is mighty high praise. His speed and power numbers are unknown but he never seems to get hit and fall backwards, and no one ever seems to catch him from behind, in spite of his playing for probably the best middle school program in Kentucky. Lawson is a star in basketball too, but football is his first love. Team Kentucky Coach G.J. Wooldridge says about Lawson That boy is a football player. No one is ever going to outwork him. He’s beaten us two years straight in the State Championship game and I have watched, either live or on film, every game in which he has played over the two year period. I have no doubt his reported 34 inch vertical is accurate and any tackler who tries to meet him in the hole better bring plenty of friends or he’s in for a miserable day. 

North Pulaski Middle School, Korbyn Goff, 5-6, 155 pounds, RB;

Goff played this past season as a 5-6, 155 pound player and has been hand timed in the forty yard dash as low as 4.7 seconds. Korbyn has reminded some of us whom have followed the game at the middle school level the past few years of Knox Central’s Ethan Mills. Like Mills, Goff has logged plenty of time playing for Team Kentuckys’ FBU Elite squad and its Future Stars team. Goff is a guy whose production this past year wasn’t as auspicious as his seventh grade production, a year in which he played ahead with the 8th graders in spite of being in seventh grade, but Goff has something one can’t coach and something greatly coveted by all coaches in the backfield, filthy speed. It is easy to see the kind of future and, even immediate, stardom awaiting a Korbyn Goff upon his reaching high school varsity play provided he continues to work hard and not get too caught up in his own press-clippings. Korbyn is a kid whom has been much ballyhooed already and falling into the trap of believe you have already arrived has altered the course to stardom of quite a few middle schoolers transitioning to high school football. Korbyn has helped lead his North Pulaski football team to back-to-back births in the KYMSFA, Division I, State Championship game. Korbyn is decidedly the smallest back in our backfield on this All-State team but Korbyn has shown himself to be an every-down back whom is capable of beating defenders to the edge and exploding down the field or getting his team tough yards when called upon for that service. Goff is another kid with versatility whom has shown he can also be a weapon out of the backfield in the throw game. Korbyn Goff, in the minds of our selection committee, was a definite selection to this All-State team.

Well folks, there it is. For the reasons above we believed these three players to be very deserving of this recognition. I am sure these may not be the best three running-backs in middle school football from across Kentucky but we are equally sure they are among them. All of these players have distinguished themselves both on the field of play and in the class room. Join us next time as we complete our defense of our selections in featuring The Athletes. 

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of the ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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About Fletcher Long 1420 Articles
Two-time winner of Kentucky Press Association awards for excellence in writing and reporting news stories while Managing Editor of the Jackson (KY) Times-Voice

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