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Grant leading the charge for Claxton

CLAXTON — Heading down the home stretch of the regular season, the Claxton Tigers are once again in position to make a run at the state playoffs. The Tigers have fallen just one win shy of the postseason in each of the last four years, but they now have a weapon in junior running back Zachaeus Grant that is breaking many games in Claxton’s favor.

Entering the 2012 season, Grant was one of a handful of backs that was going to be depended upon to put up good numbers. In Grant’s case, ‘good’ numbers is a bit of an understatement. He is at or near the top of the Region 3-A lists in both rushing yards and touchdowns and put on a performance last week that is seen more often in video games than in real life.

Grant torched Savannah Country Day (1-6, 0-3 Region 3-A) for 246 rushing yards and four touchdowns in Claxton’s (5-2, 2-1) 54-0 win over the Hornets. Those numbers are great in their own regard, but become the stuff of legend given that Grant needed just seven carries to do all of his damage.

That’s 35.1 yards per carry. That’s scoring runs of 14, 71, 76 and 80 yards. That’s ending up in the end zone 57 percent of the time he was handed the ball.

Oh, and Grant also had a 41 yard interception returned for a touchdown.

"It was definitely a pretty good night," said Grant. "I wasn’t really thinking about how many yards or touchdowns I had. I just tried to make something happen whenever I got the ball. I think that everyone on the team did that and we all played well."

While last week’s numbers are a high point, this sort of success is becoming routine for Grant. He has racked up 914 rushing yards, is over 1,300 total yards with his receiving and returning numbers, and has found the end zone an impressive 18 times so far.

"Zachaeus is a pretty special kid," said Claxton coach Patrick Hendrix. "He and a lot of guys on this team have really impressed us. We have a lot of guys like Zachaeus that had to start contributing for us early on as freshmen and sophomores. We’re still a young team, but those guys are good leaders and are playing very well."

Grant doesn’t seem to have any issues with being a vital cog in the Tigers’ machine.

He broke out last season as a dual threat running and catching and has transitioned to a home run threat running back as Claxton’s offense has evolved. Running primarily out of the shotgun with backs arranged in a flexbone or Wing-T setup, Grant is constantly in motion and creating havoc for opposing defenses that try to account for him. His quick first step and great speed make him a threat to bounce any run to the outside for big yardage, but Grant is also willing to cut up the middle and take on contact for tough yards when necessary.

Grant’s toughness also shows when he doesn’t have the ball.

"The way the offense goes, you get your carries going one way, but you turn around and block for the other guy when we go the other way," said Hendrix. "Zachaeus is a team player. He’s a great runner with the ball, but he’ll also make a bunch of good blocks and play good defense throughout the course of the game."

Grant and his Tigers will get to showcase that talent and toughness Thursday as they host Calvary Day (6-1, 2-1) in a 7 p.m. showdown that will be televised on WSAV-DT3.2 (MyTV).


Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.