By CHIP CIRILLO
When Spring Hill’s offensive coordinator called a counter run in the third quarter against Giles County, he was hoping for a short gain.
Instead, Dontae Smith gave him a 68-yard touchdown run in a 56-39 loss last week.
That’s the kind of big-play running back Smith is.
The 5-foot-10, 186-pound junior scored TDs on his first three carries in a 56-46 win over Dickson County on Sept. 9.
“He hit the crease and he was gone,” Raiders coach Jay Emmons said of the TD against Giles County. “Within five steps, we knew he was going to score. It’s just that quick.”
Smith rushed for 244 yards against Giles County, giving him 1,064 in his sixth game of the season.
“He’s electric,” Bobcats coach David O’Connor said. “Not many have the speed and strength he has. They have three or four talented kids, but he’s by far the best.”
All three TDs against Dickson came on runs of 30-plus yards.
“In my experience, that’s almost unheard of — three straight carries, three straight touchdowns,” Emmons said.
Smith started the season with 200-plus rushing yards in a 25-20 win at Summit in the opener on Aug. 19.
“They’re giving him the ball a lot, too, so he’s taken a lot of hits and he’s enduring them,” Summit coach Brian Coleman said. “He’s got enough speed to break one and he’s got enough power to break tackles also. You’ve got to gang tackle him. One person is usually not going to bring him down.”
Spring Hill (4-2, 1-2 Region 4-4A) is averaging 38.8 points out of its pro-style offense.
“Probably speed is my best asset,” said Smith, who’s been clocked at 4.41 in the 40-yard dash. “I have to trust my linemen, really. I feel like once I get past the d-line and make a couple moves on the linebacker, a DB couldn’t take me down.”
Smith has squatted 445 pounds, dead lifted 465 and power cleaned 260 in the weight room.
He has an offer from Georgia State, a Football Bowl Subdivision team from Atlanta in the Sun Belt Conference.
“He’s done a lot of good things for us this season and he’s really shining,” Raiders receiver Darrin Johnson said. “He’s very, very fast and he’s really strong, too.”
Smith can grind out yards when the situation calls for it or go the distance when he finds an opening.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Raiders receiver Justin Oden said.
Smith also played strong safety for the first half of the season before moving to outside linebacker recently.
Smith has helped Emmons get off to a good start in his first season as Spring Hill’s coach.
He was a Centennial assistant last season under Brian Rector, who now coaches Father Ryan. The Fighting Irish visit the Raiders tonight.
“If I were to say there wasn’t a little battle for pride going on, I’d be lying,” Emmons said. “I learned a lot from Coach Rector in a very short period of time and I’m trying to instill some of those things in Spring Hill High School.”
Before Centennial, Emmons was a defensive coordinator at Lambuth for 11 years and Rockford, Ill., for four seasons.
“(Dontae) makes my job a whole lot easier,” Emmons said. “He always has a smile on his face. He’s enjoying everything he does.”