Heels still on Baker's mind

Toney Baker has had a list of five schools—Virginia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia and Tennessee—for over a year, and the list remains unchanged. What does change, and on a weekly basis, is the Baker family's Saturday destination.

"We went to the Virginia Tech-N.C. State game last weekend, and I it was great. I had a good time and really enjoyed myself there," Baker said of his trip to Blacksburg. "It was a really pretty place and they have great fans. They are going nuts when the team is on defense and you could hear a pin drop when they are on offense so they really know the game."

Baker, who is averaging 260 and four touchdowns per game this season, rushed for 201 yards on 17 carries with four touchdowns (one receiving) this week against Southwestern Randolph, and his Ragsdale team again appears poised to make a run deep into the playoffs. Baker had his a less than average night on the ground, but had several jaw-dropping runs and a catch in the flat that highlighted his abilities out of the backfield. The season, not the recruiting process, is his focus.

"I'm just trying to finish the season, finishing my high school career right now. This team and this school deserves all of my attention right now," Baker said.

When the topic of North Carolina's up and down season is brought up, Baker again defers (as is his wont).

"I haven't been focused on the week to week season, this team and the high school season is what is most important right now. I do know that they have some athletes and they are getting better, and I really like Coach Bunting," said Baker.

The top player in the state is approaching the state's top rusher of all-time, T.A. McClendon, in rushing yards as well. Baker needs fewer than 550 yards (and at his pace, that is two games) to eclipse McClendon and become the most prolific back in the history of North Carolina high school football. Unlike McClendon at Albemarle, Baker rarely plays in the fourth quarter due to the blowout nature of many games. Ragsdale's head coach Tommy Norwood (and Baker) are unapologetic about that fact.

"That's just not the way we do things. What good would it have done for him to rush for 300 tonight? That's just not our style at Ragsdale and we are just not going to do those things. There have been nights where he could have gone for who knows what, but we are not going to do that," Norwood said.

Baker plans on attending the N.C. State vs. Wake Forest game Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium and the North Carolina vs. N.C. State game October 9. Chances are good that he will break the state record before he makes it to Chapel Hill; at that point the only two major questions left about his high school career will be whether he can snag a state title and which college will garner his services for the next phase of his development.


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