djr-2018-08-17-sport-tcps-berryp1

Tupelo Christian running back Josh Berry was off to a fast start last season before tearing up his knee in mid-October.

BELDEN The date is burned into Josh Berry’s brain: Oct. 12, 2018.

The Tupelo Christian Prep tailback was enjoying a career night, rushing for 243 yards and three touchdowns in a blowout win against division foe Falkner.

He was well on his way to a 1,000-yard season – and then it all came to an abrupt and painful end.

While making a tackle on defense, Berry tore the ACL in his left knee. It can take up to a year to recover from such an injury.

But there was Berry on Monday night, going full speed as the Eagles practiced in full gear for the first time this preseason. The 5-foot-9, 163-pound junior said he felt 100% healthy and was ecstatic to be back on the field.

“It feels great. Every time I’m running the ball I think, Oct. 12, Oct. 12, because that’s the day I got hurt,” Berry said. “Just trying to motivate myself.”

In the nine games he played, Berry rushed for 905 yards and 11 touchdowns.

After his injury, TCPS lost a close game to Smithville, romped past Ashland, and then lost to Simmons in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs. Before the Simmons game, Berry made a vow to himself: “If I’m going to be out here next season, I’ve gotta keep going.”

Putting in the work

He threw himself into rehab and was able to participate in track and field by the spring.

“He didn’t cheat the rehab,” TCPS coach Shaune Holiday said. “He really put the work in to get back and be ready for this season.”

Berry’s return is huge for the Eagles, who went 7-5 last season and are now part of Division 2-1A, arguably the toughest in the state pound for pound.

Also back is quarterback Khi Holiday, the head coach’s son. In his first year under center, the athletic Holiday passed for 2,051 yards and 25 TDs while rushing for 721 yards and eight scores.

“Both of those guys have been starting since they were in the ninth grade, whether it was offense or defense,” Shaune Holiday said. “They know what we expect from them, and we know what to expect out of them also.”

Khi Holiday, a converted receiver, has quickly grown comfortable in the quarterback role. And having someone like Berry in the backfield with him only adds to that comfort level.

“He’s one of those players who goes hard no matter what,” Khi Holiday said. “Win or lose, he’s going hard.”

brad.locke@journalinc.com Twitter: @bradlocke

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