Injury to starting tailback forces Hickman football to rely on depth

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | 8:48 p.m. CST; updated 11:13 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Senior running back Deven Larry runs with the ball during football practice Wednesday at Hickman High School.

COLUMBIA — All season long, Deven Larry has been the engine that drives the Hickman football team's offense.

At the end of the fourth quarter in Hickman’s 10-7 overtime win against Rock Bridge in the district semifinals on Friday night, the engine broke down.

Larry had already carried the ball more than 30 times that night, pounding the ball into the middle of the line of scrimmage and slowly fatiguing the Rock Bridge defense. That’s when he took a shot to the shoulder that forced him out of the game.

“I’ve talked about Deven being a special fighter,” Hickman coach Arnel Monroe said after the game. “He’s a special warrior. He doesn’t talk much. He’s just going to lead by example.”

The Kewpies’ depth proved valuable in Larry's absence. Hickman was already without running back Bohannon Davidson, who recently shed a protective walking boot. But that’s why the Kewpies run four backs.

“When it came time to run a fresh dog, we had it,” Monroe said.

Justise Keith was the fresh dog in the backfield, and he helped Hickman secure the win in overtime.

“I knew it was my time to step up,” Keith said. “We practice for it. We have four running backs. We practice for any situation we can get on the field, and I was definitely ready for it.”

While depth has been key for Hickman, Larry has been the team’s workhorse. He passed 1,000 yards rushing this season with more than 120 yards coming in Friday’s game. Larry was characteristically humble about his performance and workload.

“I do what I have to do to provide for my team," Larry said.

Monroe said Larry is probable for Friday’s district championship game against Francis Howell despite being limited in practice this week. Davidson also got some work in at practice this week, but Monroe was not as sure about his availability.

“He’s in the process,” Monroe said. “We’re going to see, but it’s going to be a slow process.”

Keith will be in for more of a workload this week in an attempt to keep Larry fresh and healthy for the duration of the game. Sophomore Marshall Willingham, who has been used mostly as a short yardage back this season, could also see a few more carries.

But with a district title and trip to the state semifinals on the line, Larry is ready to play through the pain and help keep Hickman’s offense running.

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.

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