Schematically speaking, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Porter Ridge football team entering the season was who would man the empty backfield spot alongside senior Chris Duffy in the Pirates’ two-back Spread-option offense.
So far, junior Jerrick Robbins has provided just the answer coach Blair Hardin was seeking.
Robbins, also a starting defensive back, has sprinted for 1,138 yards with 12 touchdowns on 134 carries this season, good for an 8.49 yards-per-rush average. In the Pirates’ 34-27 fourth-round win over North Davidson last week, Robbins ran for 96 yards, snapping a four-game streak during which he ran for at least 100 yards. He hasn’t run for fewer than 96 yards since Oct. 12.
“I always thought I could play with the big guys,” said Robbins. “I thought I’d have a chance to, and I wanted to prove my point on the practice field and play hard and show what I had.”
And that’s exactly what he’s done, said Hardin, as Robbins has continued to improve both as a running back and a free safety.
“Some of the runs he had the other night at North Davidson, you don’t teach,” said Hardin. “That’s what he does for us – he makes plays.”
Robbins said their contrasting styles have made him a solid complement to the more powerful Duffy (team-high 1,320 rushing yards), which has elicited comparisons to another dynamic duo.
“I call (Duffy) Batman, and I’m Robin,” said Robbins with a laugh. “We have two different styles. I’m a little quicker and have a little more agility, but Duffy is a power back. “
But even as a 5-foot-8, 162-pounder, Robbins packs a bigger punch than his size might suggest.
“He’s not afraid of contact,” Hardin said. “I love seeing our smaller guys who believe they’re John Riggins and can run right through you. He sets the tone for our team – he and Duffy, the way they carry the football. All of our guys:
offense, defense, special teams, they just feed off that type of toughness.”
Hardin said he first realized Robbins’ potential last year, when he ran for more than 160 yards and three touchdowns against state power Kannapolis A.L. Brown.
“You saw his upside,” Hardin said. “I was like, ‘Man, if he just stays consistent and gains confidence, he’s going to be a player.’
“He’s done that. He’s a huge reason why we’re playing (in the state championship) this Friday.”