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Manning's Smith runs way to Player of Week honor

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 10/22/19
Aaron Smith had seen nothing but spot duty at running back for the Manning High School football team this season, as he has been a standout wide receiver. However, he was put on the spot, having to play running back in their game against Waccamaw …

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Manning's Smith runs way to Player of Week honor

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Aaron Smith had seen nothing but spot duty at running back for the Manning High School football team this season, as he has been a standout wide receiver.

However, he was put on the spot, having to play running back in their game against Waccamaw last week after starter Caleb Wright went down with an injury.

"I had been working at running back in case something like this happened," Smith said. "I've always wanted to play running back."

And Smith will probably get a few more chances this season. All he did in the Monarchs' 47-22 victory was run for 270 yards and five touchdowns on just 17 carries.

Because of his performance, Smith has been selected as The Sumter Item Offensive Player of the Week. The other players of the week are Sumter defensive end DJ Jackson as the Defensive Player, Crestwood's Quinton Harrison as the Special Teams Player and C.E. Murray offensive guard Nyziah Alston-Daniels as the Offensive Lineman.

Players are selected based on nominations from local high school coaches. Selections are made by The Sumter Item sports staff

The quartet will be honored at the weekly breakfast meeting of the Sumter Touchdown Club presented by FTC on Friday beginning at 7:15 a.m. The meeting takes place at the University of South Carolina Sumter's Arts & Letters Building.

Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell will be the guest speaker.

OFFENSE - AARON SMITH MANNING

Smith got his repetitions in at running back leading up to the game because Manning's other main running back, Irving Mares, was injured the previous week. When Wright went down, Monarch head coach Reggie Kennedy had no choice but to go with Smith.

"Yeah, he'll probably be getting his time at running back this week," said Kennedy, whose team plays host to Hanahan on Friday. "Since our offense has been more focused on the run, we've been practicing hm at running back. It's easier to hand him the ball.

"We haven't been playing him a lot on offense though, because he means so much to us on defense (at linebacker)," Kennedy said. "But we've got two important games so he'll probably be pulling double duty.

Smith is the team's leading tackler, and he had a huge defensive game last week. Smith had 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and recovered a fumble.

Smith has already learned who to pay homage to as a running back.

"The offensive line played a huge part in my success," he said. "I was just following the blocks and doing everything I was supposed to do. I knew I wasn't going to go down easy."

DEFENSE - DJ JACKSON SUMTER

After a series of blowout wins in its previous five games, the Sumter defense found itself playing meaningful snaps throughout its 28-7 victory over Blythewood last week. Jackson was making more than his share of meaningful plays.

The sophomore finished with 14 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks and four QB pressures.

"I felt really good out there," Jackson said. "I felt great, and I just kept going after them. I would beat (the lineman), and they would try to run wide, but I was able to get them."

Gamecock head coach Mark Barnes said Jackson has been a steady performer all year.

"He's probably been our most consistent lineman," Barnes said. "We moved him to defensive line after he played linebacker on junior varsity last year. He added a little weight, so we moved him. He is athletic , and he is relentless the whole game."

SPECIAL TEAMS - QUINTON HARRISON CRESTWOOD

Harrison had a tremendous affect on the outcome of Crestwood's 30-23 win over Dreher last week. He blocked two punts and then caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from punter Robert Reed that turned a 23-20 lead into a 10-point advantage.

"It was no big thing," Harrison responded when asked what went through his mind when the fake punt was called. "I was just ready to do what I needed to do."

The blocked punts came with Harrison lined up on the left edge and getting in clean on both punts.

"We try our best to focus on special teams," said Crestwood head coach Roosevelt Nelson. "We work hard at it. Quinton did a great job getting back there."

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN - NYZIAH ALSTON-DANIELS C.E. MURRAY

Alston-Daniels won the award for the second time this season and had the same grade. He graded out at 93 percent and had a knockdown block in CEM's 44-18 win over Branchville.

"Nyziah has been one of our best offensive lineman all season," said C.E. Murray head coach Brian Smith. "It's between him and his twin brother Nyzier. He does a great job, and he never comes off the field for us."

Nyziah had eight tackles, two of them for loss, from his tackle spot on defense. And when he's not on the offensive line, he gets time at running back, rushing for 73 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

"They (the offensive linemen) know how good it makes them feel when I'm in there at running back," Alston-Daniels said. "They are definitely trying their best blocking for me when I'm in at running back."