It’s perhaps the strength of a multidimensional offense averaging 35.2 points a game.
Fifth-ranked Blackman’s ground attack averages 258.5 yards a game this season and surpassed the 3,300-yard mark in the Blaze’s 17-3 quarterfinal win over Oakland last week.
The Blaze (11-2) will take that successful rushing attack to top-ranked Maryville (13-0) on Friday at Shields Stadium for a Class 6A state semifinal.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (ET).
But the success has come without a bell cow in the back field. There is no Mr. Football candidate running the ball like the Blaze had previously when Ole Miss sophomore I’Tavius Mathers was at Blackman.
Instead, this has been a ground attack by a committee of about three primary runners –running backs Cole Notgrass and Charlie Davidson along with quarterback Jauan Jennings.
“The ability for all three of them to do things special, and to have a big night at any point, gives you an assurance that every night somebody is going to be on,” Blackman coach Philip Shadowens said.
The Blaze enter the semifinals with 3,360 rushing yards.
Notgrass has 1,110 yards on 130 carries. He is the fastest of the trio.
Davidson has 878 yards on 106 carries. Both Davidson and Notgrass has shown the ability to run hard between the tackles. Davidson, who left last Friday night’s game with a mild concussion, has been cleared to play on Friday according to Shadowens.
Jennings, who has numerous Division I offers at quarterback and as an athlete, is a big play threat anytime he touches it. He has rushed for 706 yards on 115 carries, and has had his share of runs for the highlight reel.
Combined they have 2,694 rushing yards, or 80 percent of the run game.
“It’s amazing how each week we get to see how different people step up, and the way they step up,” Jennings said. “Obviously, Cole and Charlie stepped up (last week). Cole had two touchdowns and Charlie really opened up the running game.
“Besides that, our offensive line has done a great job. That’s how we’ve combined to rush for 2,700 yards this year.”
The Blaze ground game, though, will be challenged this week. Maryville’s defense is giving up 94.9 rushing yards a game.
Notgrass said he and Davidson talk to each other during games to compare notes. That has been a help.
“We all work together, and all three of us are really good runners,” Notgrass said.
“When one of us messes up, we try to coach each other. If we see something they don’t see we try to help each other out.”