In an offense full of firepower, Nettleton’s Roderick Patterson might just be the unsung hero.
Averaging 8.1 yards per carry, the senior running back has torched opposing defenses on the ground with 566 yards and six touchdowns through five games of action this season.
“It starts with him,” second-year Nettleton head coach John Keith said. “Everything we try to do on the perimeter starts with us being able to run the football.”
The Tigers’ offense features talented transfer quarterback Ty Walton, who has plenty of weapons at his disposal with wide receivers like sophomore Anterion Venson and junior Zavian Dilworth.
Walton’s 879 passing yards and eight touchdowns are heavily portioned to the duo out wide. Venson has 326 yards and three touchdowns on 16 catches, while Dilworth leads the team with 19 receptions for 252 yards and two scores.
Despite the explosiveness on offense, the Tigers (2-4) have hit hard times on a current three-game losing streak. Keith’s offense has put up a few points, but his defense has struggled, giving up 38.4 points per game this season.
The losses are a product of a tough schedule, according to Keith – one he purposefully made in hopes to prepare his team for Division 4-3A play, which starts tonight at home against Aberdeen (2-3, 0-1).
“Last year going into division, our schedule didn’t prepare us to play Booneville, Amory and the games we had to play in the playoffs,” said Keith. “So that’s why we scheduled Caledonia and Senatobia, who we knew would be really good. I talked about leading into the year, that we may be a better football team with a worse record, but we were going to be challenged, and we were going to be ready.”
Last week against Senatobia, Patterson was held under 100 yards for the first time all season but still managed to find the end zone.
The plan is to get him back on track, but it’ll be a challenge against a stiff Bulldogs defense.
“We’re going to commit to running the football,” said Keith. “… It’s not going to be easy because Aberdeen is really good in the defensive box.
“It’s one of those things where if you give a good player the ball enough times, they typically find ways to make plays for you. And he’s going to get opportunities to do that.”