Jared Smith already has set one state record this year and is now attempting to become the first 3,000-yard rusher in a season.
Smith, a 6-foot, 205-pound junior running back for Pewamo-Westphalia, will have to earn the single-season rushing record too, going up against Division 7 defending state champion Detroit Loyola in a 1 p.m. semifinal Saturday at Fenton.
Smith rushed for 103 yards last season in a 41-21 semifinal loss to Loyola, which had nearly a dozen players move on to play college football. If Smith duplicates that effort, he will rush for more than 3,000, coming in with 2,899 yards and 50 rushing TDs which surpassed the former mark of 48 held by Kirk Elsworth of Goodrich in 2004.
“It was disappointing to come up short against them last year,” Smith said. “It’s great to have another chance at them, hopefully it ends differently. We fumbled early in the game last year and they scored off of it. We can’t let that happen again.”
Smith, who rushed for 2,400 yards last season, hit the weight room during the off season and put on 10 pounds to get bigger, stronger and faster heading into this season to try and help Pewamo-Westphalia take the next step and get to Ford Field for a shot at the state title.
“I felt I’ve had a great year so far and it’s because I got into the weight room and put in a lot of work during the offseason, put on 10 pounds of muscle and it shows in my balance, strength and speed,” said Smith, who has used his 4.6 speed to run for 843 yards (94 carries) and 12 TDs in three postseason games this season. “I maxed out last year benching 185 pounds five times, and now I can bench 225 pounds five times and can max out at 260 so that’s quite a big difference.
“I think rushing for 50 TDs, that record is awesome, but no one in state history has ever rushed for 3,000 yards in a season so that would be really amazing. My offensive line has been phenomenal, our fullback too, opening holes for me to get the second level and then I just need to break a couple of tackles to get a big run.”
Pewamo-Westphalia third-year coach Jeremy Miller has high praise for Smith for getting in the weight room to become better, especially after that 2,400-yard season her sophomore year.
“He rushed for 2,400 yards and didn’t let it get to his head, wanted to keep improving,” Miller said. “He’s big, strong and fast, really put together. He has great vision and can run away from people. He sets up the block well.”
And, according to Miller, Loyola is like Smith.
“Loyola is big, strong, fast and well-coached … the complete package,” Miller said. “They’re the defending champs, definitely what you want to measure your team up against.”
Running wild in postseason
How three high school running backs have fared this season in the playoffs:
■ Jared Smith, Jr., Pewamo-Westphalia: 94 carries, 843 yards, 12 TDs
■ Jacob Clark, Jr., Livonia Franklin: 68 carries, 731 yards, 10 TDs
■ Markus Sanders, Jr., Canton: 57 carries, 620 yards, six TDs