Pulaski Oak Grove tailback Darren McFadden knows he is going to be a marked man.
After all, the 6-1, 210-pound standout is regarded as the state's best player, one of the top 40 nationally according to The Insiders and every opponent is aware he is committed to the University of Arkansas after rushing for 2,027 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.
He just hopes they keep the fingers out of his eyes.
"I got hit in the eye in Friday night's game and couldn't see straight for about seven or eight minutes of the second quarter," McFadden said. "I just tried to fight through it once I got back in there, but never really could see straight the rest of the night."
Still McFadden managed to rush 15 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns in his team's 26-25 loss to rival Pulaski Robinson. That included ripping off scoring runs of 63 and 57 yards in the opening quarter.
It was a nice start for a young man who topped the 100-yard rushing mark in 11 of his team's 12 games last season. In five of those he topped 200.
"I feel like I played pretty well, but I would have liked to have seen what I could have done to help my team when if I could have seen straight," McFadden said. "Although a lot of people didn't think we were going to beat them, we thought we could. I hate to lose, but we played well. We just had a few mental breakdowns we have to correct."
McFadden got his yards last season behind a veteran offensive line that featured five seniors, but he is working this season with a whole new unit and that's one reason the Hornets are not projected to be a factor in the AAAA-Southeast conference race this season.
"I thought they did a great job Friday night in opening holes and playing hard," McFadden said. "I think they are just going to get better and better each week and we are going to have a good season. I think we are going to contend for a championship."
McFadden, who became the Razorbacks' first 2005 pledge when he committed back in the spring, didn't get to see the UA's 63-13 thrashing of New Mexico State, but will be on hand for Saturday night's game with Texas.
"The Razorbacks really played well and scored lots of points and that was great to see," McFadden said. "I think they are going to be much better than a lot of people are predicting. They have a lot of young players with a lot of talent up there."
Some Razorback fans are salivating at a possible future backfield of current Arkansas freshman Peyton Hillis and McFadden to go along with one of the young quarterbacks on campus.
"I'm one of those looking forward to that," McFadden said. "I think we'd be a great backfield and with all those young quarterbacks and receivers, it gets you pretty excited about the future."
Pulaski Oak Grove, 8-4 a season ago, will return to action this Friday night when it travels to play Atkins.
"I would like to rush for more yards than I did last season, but my main goal is for us to win football games and make the playoffs," McFadden said. "Hopefully we get started doing that on Friday night."
McFadden's a Marked Man
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