Deris Cox is filling in nicely for the departed Anthony Wales as Central’s main running back.
Running through the DeSales defense twice for scoring runs of 65 and 73 yards, Cox led two-time defending state Class 3-A champion Central to a 27-14 victory over the Colts Friday night at Southern. For the game, the Yellowjackets (3-0) got 239 yards rushing on 17 carries from Cox, including a 50-yard run that helped set up a 16-yard TD scoot by quarterback Tae Shawn Gibbs.
Wales, a two-time first-team All-Stater, is now at Western Kentucky University, but the Central faithful are taking a liking to Cox, who now has 682 yards and five TDs on 63 carries this season.
“I’m going to try (and fill Wales’ shoes) and help my team win as best I can, and get a lot of yards at the same time,” Cox said.
“Deris is doing a heck of a job,” Gibbs said. “He’s really stepping up to the plate. People don’t understand how fast Cox is.”
Central trailed 7-6 when Cox broke loose for a 65-yard TD dash. It looked like there were several DeSales defenders in the secondary when Cox reached that point. Still, he managed to power his way through and get into the open.
“I let them have a little stiff arm, broke some tackles, turned the jets on and got to the end zone,” Cox said. “We run the option and Gibbs has the option to give it to me or fake it and keep the ball. Together, we’re unbeatable.”
DeSales (1-1) shocked Central on the second play of the game when quarterback Nathan Roush hit halfback Dylan Byrd on a 66-yard TD strike for a 7-0 lead.
“Byrd ran down the middle between two safeties, caught the ball and scored,” Roush said. “It was an easy read.”
Central closed within 7-6 on Gibbs’ 16-yard run with 5:09 left in the first period, after Cox’s 50-yard run put the Yellowjackets on the Colts’ 16.
Gibbs also was effective passing the ball, hitting Devonte Yelder on a 46-yard scoring strike that made it 20-7 with 44 seconds left in the first half. Yelder went up over a defender to make the catch around the DeSales 25.
Cox’s 73-yard TD run came on the third play of the second half. Again, Cox went into a crowded secondary defense and came out the winner.
“He’s waited three years for this opportunity,” Central coach Ty Scroggins said. “He’s always been as good as Ace (Wales’ nickname), so this is his opportunity to shine and he’s making the best of it. He doesn’t have the moves Ace had, but he’s more powerful. He uses his power to get through the defense.”
One statistic that bothered Scroggins was that Central drew 13 penalties for 110 yards. “That’s our weakness right now,” he said.
DeSales drove 70 yards in 15 plays before Byrd scored on a two-yard run with 6:39 left in the game. For the night, Byrd ran for 87 yards on 21 carries, and he caught three passes for 93 yards.
DeSales fumbled four times and Central recovered all four.
“That was the difference in the game,” Colts coach Harold Davis said. “Both teams played hard. Our kids are pretty worn out, but I think their kids are, too. That’s a state championship team there. Their speed is everywhere.”