All-County Football Offense: Smith's 2,000-yard season was stratospheric
South Hagerstown running back Isiaha Smith is The Herald-Mail's Washington County Football Offensive Player of the Year for 2012. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer)
What more could a guy want?
“I want to win and make it to the playoffs,” Smith said. “I really want to leave high school saying I played in a playoff game.”
The Rebels were oh-so-close to making the postseason and Smith was the biggest reason. He became the first player in Washington County history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season — finishing with 2,004 on 202 carries — and his 27 touchdowns easily led the county.
Smith is The Herald-Mail’s Washington County Football Offensive Player of the Year.
Smith gave a glimpse into the future in the final game of the 2011 season when he ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns in South’s 40-7 victory over North Hagerstown.
“At the end of his sophomore year, he did things very strong and he worked very hard in the offseason,” said South coach Toby Peer. “We decided that he earned the right to get the bulk of the carries this year, and he stepped up and had a great year for us.”
Smith broke South’s single-season rushing record — held by James Frisby — in Week 6 and topped the Washington County single-season record — held by Smithsburg’s Bill Reuter — in Week 8.
He had 1,814 yards through eight games and the 2,000-yard mark seemed like a foregone conclusion.
“It was kind of hard not to think about it, because everyone was in my ear,” Smith said. “‘You can do this, you can be this.’ It was hard not to let that be a distraction.
But Smith hurt his back in the Week 8 win over Williamsport, and he didn’t tell anyone.
The injury hampered him in a Week 9 loss to Brunswick and he missed about half of the season-ending loss to North.
He needed 23 yards against North to reach 2,000. He surpassed the milestone on a 7-yard run in the third quarter and didn’t get another touch in the game.
“If I have any regrets, it’s that I didn’t tell coach that I was hurt,” Smith said. “It felt bad against Williamsport, then it felt worse against Brunswick. But ... live and learn.”
Peer said he heard criticism during the year about the number of yards Smith was accumulating and that the impression was the running back was being overused.
“He had 202 carries this year. That’s 20 a game,” Peer said. “We weren’t running him out there in games we were winning big. There were some games he only had eight or nine carries and never saw the ball once we got a big lead.”
But when the Rebels did need to lean on Smith, he usually delivered.
“Our philosophy was to keep running the ball and in the fourth quarter our strength and conditioning would prevail,” Peer said. “Isiaha is a big, bruising runner and he wears people down and has ultimate trust in his line.
“But above all, he’s an outstanding young man, very humble and he knows this year wouldn’t have been possible without his teammates.”