Tornadoes making their run

They may have a new head coach, but its business as usual for the Alcoa Tornadoes. Under 1st year head coach Gary Rankin, the Tornadoes have endured some unexpected losses, but look as strong as ever entering a Round 4 clash with Smith County this Friday.

What could one point to in explaining the Tornadoes success in 2006? There are three things really. Team cohesion is at an all time high. Support from fans and the student body at Alcoa is strong. The Tornadoes dress nearly 75% of the entire male student body after all. But the real deal for the Tornadoes in 2006 is the running game. It's been nothing short of amazing this year.

Why is that? Alcoa has not one, not two, but three very capable running backs that would be starting anywhere in 2A or 3A.

Senior Chris Shiverdecker has the power and agility of a young D1 back. He rushed for 1300 yards and 20 TD's thru just the regular season tilts. Chris has explosive power between the tackles and is super quick laterally…his best asset. He's also a threat receiving out of the backfield, as he's scored once through the air in 2006.

Then there's senior Darryl Tate. Tate is in a kind of unfortunate situation. Had it not been for Shiverdecker's move from 5A Jefferson Co to the hills of Blount County, Tate would be the marquee back at Alcoa today.

You'll never here Darryl complain though. He's rushed for 9 TD's of his own this season and carries an 8.4 yard per carry average. Not bad for a guy that touches the ball half as much as the starter.

Then there's the future. No one would have believed you, had you told them the son of a Maryville Rebel great would one day be the starting RB at Alcoa High School. These things don't happen, right? Enter one Troy Hodge Jr.

As a junior, Hodge has already exhibited the speed, power and elusiveness that Shiverdecker possesses and graduated great Dustin Lindsey had. He touches the ball even less than Tate, but has a slightly better per carry average at 8.6 and has 5 TD's. Hodge is the undisputed future of Tornado rushing.

Someone else you'll se lots of next year is Cameron Battles. Battles is a jitter bug of a back. Not very big, but man is he fast! You'll see Battles in key situations, numerous times in 2007. Don't be too surprised to see him line up under center some too.

As a junior this year, he carried a 3.5 yard per carry average and scored a couple of times in limited duty. That's running behind THREE other backs. Not bad at all.

So, expect Alcoa to get big chinks of yardage from the receiving corps and expect the defense to score some too. But be assured, the Tornado RB's will get their yardage against Smith County and beyond.

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