Despite what his numbers suggest, Tam Patterson was not at his best last season.
Yet he was one of the most productive running backs in Northeast Mississippi. Patterson rushed for a school-record 1,814 yards and scored 23 touchdowns to lead Corinth to an 11-3 record.
He was playing with a hamstring injury he’d suffered the previous spring while running track. The injury limited Patterson’s offseason football work, and he spent a lot of time on the bench in the second half of games.
“I tell you what’s been impressive about Tam is the mindset of whatever he’s got to do to be successful, he’s going to do it,” Corinth coach Todd Lowery said. “He just pushes everybody. He pushes himself just as hard.”
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Patterson said his hamstring is “99%” healthy, and he’s been able to go hard with his summer training. He can deadlift 500 pounds and bench 290, and he’s added about 10 pounds to his frame.
He’s also trying to regain the “second gear” he had before the injury. That involves parachute running and pulling sleds.
“I’m working on being explosive and being strong. I’ve just to work on that second speed,” Patterson said. “That’s my weakness, and I’ve just got to find that second gear.”
An improved and fully healthy Patterson helps make Corinth a contender in Class 4A this fall. So does senior quarterback D.T. Sheffield, who rushed for 1,052 yards and 14 TDs last season.
Gone is Zach Patterson – Tam’s cousin – who was the other main component of the Warriors’ Wing-T attack, which last year churned out 343.3 rushing yards per game.
“We’ve got some guys that are going to step up in Zach’s spot and be able to do some damage in the same place,” Tam said.
Corinth has reached the third round of the playoffs each of the last two seasons. The Warriors were 11-3 last year, with losses to Tupelo (35-29 in overtime), Senatobia (39-38) and then Greenwood in the playoffs (40-38).
This season’s schedule is a tough one. Corinth opens at Shannon and then faces Tupelo and Olive Branch. Division opponents are New Albany, North Pontotoc, Ripley and Tishomingo County.
“Everybody’s thinking that we can’t live up to our schedule, but I feel like our coach did that for everybody to see that Corinth is more than they think we are,” Patterson said. “Our goal at the end is to be playing in December at the championship game.”
In aiding his team’s championship pursuit, Patterson hopes to reach some personal goals along the way. He’d like to break the rushing record he set last year; in fact, he wants to run for 2,500 yards.
“I’m trying to go out with a bang.”