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By GOOSE LINDSAY
Midway’s Ray Robinson has a simple philosophy and that’s to play as hard as possible.
That style of play has served the Green Wave RB well as he has put together a list of accomplishments that includes being named all-state as a junior to go along with 55 career touchdowns. Friday night, Robinson has a chance to add perhaps his biggest accomplishment to that list as he is just 57 yards away from reaching the 5,000-yard mark in career rushing.
“That (5,000 yards) was never a goal,” Robinson said. “I just always wanted to play as hard as I could for my teammates, especially the seniors since I’ve been here. The biggest thing to me is winning.”
Although Robinson may not think 5,000 yards is that big of a deal, Midway head coach Craig Moser knows that it’s a major accomplishment, especially considering Robinson has never had to carry the complete load of Midway’s offense.
“It’s a real big deal, especially when you consider we’ve never ask Ray to carry the ball 30 times a game,” Moser said. “Last year he had 1,800 yards rushing, but he only carried the ball about 15 times a game. He got all those yards because he averaged about 10 yards a carry. And he’s a complete player; he’s just as good a blocker as he is a runner.”
Five thousand yards rushing in high school is comparable to a basketball player scoring 2,500 points or a quarterback throwing for 3,000 yards in a season. In fact, TSSAA’s Web site lists the top 10 rushers of all-time in Tennessee football and Andre Flowers is No. 10 on the list with 5,402 yards so Robinson has a shot to reach that mark if Midway makes a good postseason run.
So why is Robinson so good?
There are several factors actually. Perhaps the biggest two are his durability and the fact he played a lot as an underclassman.
“Ray was the man in Little League and he rushed for about 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns as an eighth grader so we were looking forward to getting him,” Moser said. “His freshman year, however, we had two solid backs already in (Blake) Bray and (Daniel) Bredwell. We spent some time in the preseason working on some packages for him, but his main asset was he was going to give us some depth.”
But then it happened, Bray was injured and Robinson made his first career start at Watertown in week five. Moser said he didn’t use Robinson much that week, but that all changed the following week at Oneida. The Indians led 18-0 at halftime, but Robinson sparked a second half comeback and the rest was history.
“Ray just went nuts that second half at Oneida,” Moser said. “We were down 18-0 at halftime and not playing well at all then Ray led us back to a 19-18 victory. That was his coming out party. He had 163 yards that night and he’s been our feature back ever since.”
“That was my breakout game,” Robinson added. “We weren’t doing anything all night then I busted an 80-yard touchdown run. That run is the play I remember the most since I’ve been here. After I scored, coach told me I was getting the ball all night.
“I was nervous though,” Robinson said of playing as a freshman. “A lot of people don’t expect a freshman to play like a junior or senior. I just think the more I learned, the better I got.”
Robinson has been a model of consistency ever since. Robinson batters defense by pounding the ball between the tackles and he never takes a play off.
“Ray’s just a tough kid,” Moser said. “He’s the type player that gets better as the game and year goes on. Plus he never complains about anything. He’s never had an unexcused absence in the weight room and he never misses a day in practice. He’s played with a hurt ankle and knee plus a broke hand, but he's never let it slow him down.
“Another thing that helps is that he knows how to deliver a blow. He’s taken very few big hits since he’s been here because he gives more than he gets.”
“I’m just a farm boy,” Robinson said of his physical style of play. “That’s just how we do things in Midway. We’re going to play hard and prepare during the week.”
One thing that is hard to believe, however, is that Robinson is having somewhat of a down year according to a lot of people. After rushing for 1,800 yards last year, Robinson is not even halfway to that mark this season.
Moser, however, says that anyone that thinks Robinson isn’t as effective doesn’t understand the impact that his senior bulldozer has on the rest of the team.
“Every game we play it seems our opponent’s main objective is stopping Ray,” Moser said. “That might have hurt his numbers, but it’s opened up a lot of things for us. It makes it easier to get outside and our passing game is a lot better than in the past. When teams stack the line to stop Ray it makes it a lot easier to throw the ball. His numbers might not be as good, but what he means to this team hasn’t diminished.”
Barring some upsets in the playoffs, Friday night’s game with Wartburg could be Robinson’s last game at home and he’s hoping for a big night.
“I’m going to go as hard as I can Friday night,” Robinson said. “This might be the last game I play on our field and I’m going to leave it all on the field.”
If Robinson does have a big night, he will easily surpass the 5,000-yard mark and he could make a run at the one individual goal that he hasn’t accomplished.
“I’ve never had a 200-yard game and I’ve always wanted to do that,” Robinson said. “I had 198 yards once, but never 200. It would be fun to do that on senior night.”