East­side routes re­gion foe Henry

Up next, No. 8 Wood­ward

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - Gabriel G Sto­vall gsto­vall@cov­news.com

COV­ING­TON, Ga. — Ask Ter­rance Banks how he de­scribes the worth of run­ning backs Nuru Tinch and Adar­ius Thomas to his team, and he’ll start speak­ing ‘depth chart.’

“They’re 1A and 1B,” Banks said of his New­ton Rams of­fen­sive back­field. Of course much of the talk com­ing into the sea­son was of Nuru Tinch. The 6-foot, 215-pound tank of a run­ning back com­mit­ted to UAB just be­fore the sea­son got started good, and when he’s healthy and run­ning hard, he looks about as good as any high school back in the state.

But Tinch hasn’t played a ton of full games this sea­son due to a com­bi­na­tion of blowout wins and ill­ness, as well as some of the nag­ging aches and in­juries that ac­cu­mu­late at this point of the sea­son.

How­ever, when Tinch is side­lined, his diminu­tive coun­ter­part, Thomas — af­fec­tion­ately called “DD” by his team­mates — makes sure there is no slack off.

While Tinch is the kind of one-cu­tand-go tail­back that would rather run over you than run around you, Thomas is more of a scat­back type. He’s shifty with speed, but his hands give him the abil­ity to be use­ful as a re­ceiver in the flats and com­ing out of the back field. In last week’s 30-8 win over South Gwin­nett, Thomas spelled Tinch who Banks said had a flare up of a stom­ach virus dur­ing half­time. All Thomas did was rush for 70 yards and tack on an­other 71 yard re­ceiv­ing, along with a score. He made timely runs and clutch catches to help New­ton move the sticks and keep drives alive.

And while many may be watch­ing and wait­ing for Tinch have such kind of per­for­mances on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, Banks is quick to point out that peo­ple ought not be sur­prised to see Thomas’ role in the of­fense con­tinue to in­crease. “We have ex­treme con­fi­dence in Adar­ius Thomas,” Banks said. “Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize this about Dee Dee, but last year he was our start­ing tail­back as a sopho­more. And that’s be­cause he won that job out over ev­ery­body else. The only rea­son why we don’t ask for more of him on of­fense is be­cause we ask so much of him on both sides of the ball. But both of those guys, Dee Dee and Nuru, are im­por­tant to our of­fense.” Se­nior quar­ter­back My­ron Mid­dle­brooks agrees with his coach about Thomas, us­ing no un­cer­tain terms.

“DD is a great ath­lete,” Mid­dle­brooks said. “I mean that boy is amaz­ing. He’s a great kid. Him, as well as Nuru, it’s like hav­ing an­other quar­ter­back back there be­cause he knows where the plays are de­signed to go and who is re­spon­si­ble for what.”

And for Thomas, his shared role in the back­field isn’t a mat­ter of com­pe­ti­tion with team­mate. It’s all about him tak­ing pride in his con­tri­bu­tion to his team.

“It feels good that I can help my team and I would do any­thing to help my team,” Thomas said. “I’ve been help­ing my team since I was a sopho­more, so it comes first na­ture to me. Any­where on the field they need me, I go there and dom­i­nate, no mat­ter who’s in front of me.”

He’s proven that on the field, too. Be­fore Satur­day’s game with Archer, Thomas was av­er­ag­ing 6.6 yards per carry with a pair of rush­ing touch­downs, and he’s the team’s third lead­ing re­ceiver, yardage wise, with 106 yards and two touch­down catches.

His stats may not be gaudy, but Mid­dle­brooks says they are timely — which, to him, means more, be­cause it shows the work Thomas has done to raise his foot­ball IQ.

“He’s im­proved on his pro­gres­sions,” Mid­dle­brooks said. “He knows the cor­rect holes to move through and where to bounce back. I love him to death. He re­ally helps me a lot in the back­field.” It’s not bad for a tail­back who, as a sopho­more, was thrust some­what un­ex­pect­edly into the lime­light. Af­ter now-Michi­gan fresh­man Kurt Tay­lor trans­ferred from New­ton to Grayson af­ter his 1,500 yard ju­nior sea­son, the void gave way for Thomas to fill it in. Per­haps that’s the rea­son why he takes a fear­less ap­proach to the game, re­gard­less of the ob­sta­cles around him or the op­po­nent in front of him.

“It’s the same way every day,” he said. “I don’t look at one team no other way but to dom­i­nate them. I put in work all week as usual, and on game day, I go out and give 110 per­cent on the field, no mat­ter who it’s against.”

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