Heading into his second season, Grovetown High School football coach Rodney Holder quickly realized that he had a pair of extremely versatile running backs. So he got creative.
Holder would line sophomore Jamal Cummings up at fullback and have senior D.J. Tyson at tailback, or he would split one out as a slot receiver and put the other in the backfield.
"When you get two guys who can play at that level and can play that hard, you never really seem to have a guy that can't go," Holder said. "If you have only one guy, you might run into, 'He's going to be tired. Let's do something else,' and it might not be as successful.
"With both of them, it gives you an opportunity. If running the football is there, you can keep pounding it with either one."
The combination of Tyson -- who transferred from Greenbrier before this school year -- and Cummings has given defenses plenty to think about. Their versatility was shown during the Warriors' 42-0 shutout of Westside on Oct. 8.
Tyson carried only eight times, but he averaged an astounding 25 yards per carry to finish with 200 rushing yards. He scored on a 56-yard run and also caught a pass for 9 yards.
Cummings didn't gain as many yards on the ground -- 60 on 10 carries -- but he was a scoring machine. He found the end zone four times on runs and a fifth time on a 66-yard touchdown reception.
"As running backs, we preach family," Tyson said. "Coach Holder loves team players, and I think we're both the definition of team players.
"We support each other. One may drive the ball down the field, and the other may score. We're just looking out for the good of the team."
In Friday's 38-26 win over Josey, Tyson was the one carrying the load. He carried the ball 26 times for 174 yards.
Next time, it could very well be Cummings having a breakout performance. That is the beauty of the Warriors' offense, Holder stresses.
"Jamal's balance in traffic is really good," Holder noted. "D.J.'s ability to use his speed and to be able to move around in space is good."
Tyson is more of a burner, with speed to pull away from potential tacklers. Cummings has plenty of speed, too, but he's a bruising back who specializes in running between the tackles.
The pair complement dual-threat senior quarterback Xavier Crain well. Tyson has nearly 600 yards, Crain roughly 500 and Cummings about 450.
Now a sophomore, Cummings already has had the benefit of playing alongside a pair of standout backs.
Before Tyson, Seth Hill was the mentoring running back for Cummings. Hill, who now plays football at The Citadel, ran for 1,400 yards last year.
"Last year, I just got to sit back and watch and kind of learn all the basics of the running back position," Cummings said. "This year, I'm getting a lot more playing time. And I get to learn from D.J., too, when he's playing tailback."
One of the biggest benefits, Holder said, is that two backs who are competing for carries are going to push each other. It helps to ensure there is no complacency.
Tyson and Cummings have helped to lift the second-year program to a 3-0 record in Region 3-AAA North heading into Friday's matchup with Richmond Academy.
With a win, the Warriors would set up a showdown Oct. 29 with Thomson that would determine the sub-region champion.
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