hico — It is often said, still water runs deep.
In an interview during the first week of high school football practice. Midland Trail head coach Frank Isaacs had this to say about his star running back, Colton Yoder.
“He won’t be a hoot-and-holler guy, but he will lead by example and I am really excited for him,” Isaacs said.
Last Friday night in Trail’s clash against Independence in the annual Patriot Bowl, Yoder let his feet do the talking. After a scoreless first-half battle, the senior tailback exploded for four touchdowns and an all-important two-point conversion in the third quarter to lead his team to a 26-24 win on opening night.
For his efforts, Yoder was voted Register-Herald Prep Football Player of the Week. Yoder was one of five finalists, along with Timmy Baker from Nicholas County, Shady Spring’s Jadon Hershberger and Isaiah Valentine and Ryan Simms from Liberty.
Simms won the fan vote at register-herald.com with 37 percent of the votes.
After being hit hard by graduation last year, Isaacs felt Yoder would have to be the workhorse, especially early in the season, for his young team. Yoder proved his coach correct and even showed flashes of another great Midland Trail running back, Thomas Ferris.
“I knew he could carry the load for us, no doubt about it,” Isaacs said. “He has all the talent in the world. Once he fully realizes it, it is going to be something special; 226 yards may not be his best effort. He may not have the top-end speed that Thomas had, but he has better vision. It is nice to have a player like that.”
Although he filled up the offensive stat sheet for Trail Friday night, the senior running back focused his attention on his teammates.
“I can’t take all of the credit. I had a really good line blocking for me,” Yoder said. “It wasn’t just me that won that game, so I can’t really take any credit for it.”
Coming into the Patriot Bowl, the burning question was, could Trail handle the big offensive line that Independence would bring to the field?
“I was worried at the beginning of the year because I wasn’t sure how tough we would be,” Isaacs said. “I talk a good game, but you just don’t know because a lot of these kids had not been asked to do that. When they got punched in the mouth, I worried if they would punch back. Or if they would just lay down.”
Yoder himself got a wake-up call early in the game.
“(Colton) got hit one time there in the first quarter and most kids wouldn’t get up from it,” Isaacs said. “That big No. 52 (Marcell Guy) waylaid him. (Colton) came out a couple of plays later and really shined. I think that was a wake-up call for him.”
Yoder agreed the big lick got his attention.
“That was a big boy. He blindsided me and I looked like a helicopter,” Yoder said, laughing. “It definitely woke me up.”
Yoder did some soul searching in the locker room at halftime and was determined to come out even stronger in the second half.
“I was thinking about everything I did wrong. I didn’t hit holes. I didn’t follow blockers. Offensively we just didn’t do anything right,” Yoder said. “I knew we could beat them. I knew we were going to play harder than them and we were going to keep our focus.”
A one-yard dive by Yoder gave his the team a 6-0 lead. He backed that up two minutes later with a seven-yard score. His third touchdown of the quarter came on a 62-yard jaunt. However, the visitors answered every score in kind and with just under two minutes to play in a wild third quarter, the game stood at 18-18.
A 21-yard scoring run by Yoder pushed his team back into the lead, but the difference maker came when Yoder converted the two-point try, the only successful one by both teams all night.
“We got a little cute in the first half and hurt ourselves a few times,” Isaacs said. “But, I knew if we got back to the basics of what Midland Trail does, we would be fine.”
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