Before he ever gained a yard for the Manteca High football program, Eddie Smith knew what he wanted.
Smith, like thousands of youngsters decade after decade, becoming a Buffalo, chasing a Valley Oak League title.
Smith never took for granted that his time would come, in fact, he trained as if it never would. Now, not only is he living what he once envisioned, he’s doing an unbelievable job at it.
His contributions to Manteca are overwhelming. Preparing for your chance to play under Friday nights lightn is one thing, leading a championship-chasing VOL squad in scoring and tackles is another.
Smith can’t be looked at as a bruiser, but his straight-ahead-no-matter-what running style has produced a 6.5 yard per carry average on 150 carries. He’ll probably be the only 1,000-yard back who hasn’t gained a yard outside the hash marks.
“When I get that ball I picture the end zone,” Smith said. “If there is someone in front of me I’m going to try either try and run them over, and if not,I’m just expecting to keep my feet moving.
“I’m going to keep running hard; I don’t want to be a guy known for going down on one tackle, I want to break tackles.”
Amazing how someone who takes such pride on breaking tackles could rack up 82 of them in just eight games.
Smith has been as integral a part of the defensive unit as he is for the offensive side. With 35 unassisted tackles it safe to say that Smith has no problem going an hitting someone. He also understands that any slip of concentration from his linebacker position can result in points on the board.
“I feel like I definitely have to show up on the defensive end, too,” Smith said. “I know that I have a lot of people, the team relies on me, so I have to show up every single game. No matter who we’re playing.
“On defense if I don’t do my job something bad is going to happen. I don’t have to make the tackle every time, but I do have to do my job to help stop a play.”
Smith has been a foundation for a Manteca during his two-year varsity career. Aspirations to be the focal back in the offense started years ago and his 960 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns confirms that it is definitely Smith’s moment.
“I always told myself that hard work would pay off and so far it has been paying off,” Smith said. “I feel as if I’ve earned my spot, but there are so many more leaders on our team.
“It’s not just me that wants it, a lot of guys on our team want it, and they work just as hard.”