By David Purdum / For the AJC
You can try, but it’s extremely difficult to replicate Nick Chubb in practice.
“If we had someone like him, he’d be starting,” said Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis with a chuckle. Mariakis will lead his Panthers against Chubb and the Cedartown Bulldogs on Friday. “You can’t replicate the speed, the quickness and the power.”
The Panthers managed to contain Chubb somewhat in a 42-21 win over Cedartown last season. Chubb had roughly 120 yards, Cedartown coach Scott Hendrix said.
“We were really one-dimensional last season,” said Hendrix. “We couldn’t do much else except give it to Nick. We’re throwing the ball considerably better this season. I think we completed 20 percent of our passes last season. This year, we’re up to 50 percent, and overall have a better offense.”
Hendrix points to the improvement of junior quarterback Harrison Barnett for the more-balanced offense.
That’s not good news for a banged-up Ridgeland team starting three freshmen and missing 11 key contributors, including defensive end/tight end Jermaine Conyers, who is out with a broken shin. The Panthers’ focus will remain on stopping Chubb, something Mariakis said required all 11 defenders last season.
“He’s just so strong, and if he ever gets a crease, we’re not going to have anyone who’s going to catch him,” Mariakis said.
Chubb has 13 touchdowns and more than 600 yards rushing. He is the only senior Division I recruit on Cedartown, according to Hendrix.