Athens Drive offensive tackle faces the nation’s best defensive lineman and survives

tstevens@newsobserver.comSeptember 2, 2013 

Athens Drive offensive tackle Tyler Smith wasn’t scared when he lined up across from Greenville J.H. Rose defensive end Kentavius Street two weeks ago, although a lot of people told him he should be.

Smith isn’t a little guy. The junior is 5-foot-11 and weighs 238 pounds. He also has some moxie.

Kentavius Street, 6-3, 265 pounds, is ranked the No.1 defensive line prospect in the country by many recruiting experts. He has baskets full of recruiting propaganda. He has scholarship offers from all over the country.

Street is one of the most highly recruited players in the country. Smith was starting his first varsity game when they squared off a couple of weeks ago.

“All week before the game, people were saying ‘Kentavius Street. Kentavius Street. He’s an All-American. He’s going to kill you.’ Whatever,” Smith said.

Naturally, Smith had a healthy does of respect for the Rose all-star, but he didn’t want to go into the game mentally defeated.

“I looked at it as he was another high school football player. He breathes air, the same air that I breathe,” Smith said. “He was just another player breathing air just like me.”

Street and his Rose teammates dominated Athens in the opener in Greenville, winning 28-0.

Coach Chris Martin said it was a thorough beating.

“We couldn’t do much with them at all,” Martin said. “It wasn’t just Street. They’ve got great linebackers and tremendous team speed. It was a tough situation to be breaking in a new quarterback. Rose is so quick.”

Smith said the overall speed of the Rose defense was decisive.

“They all swarm to the ball. That was something that we couldn’t handle,” he said. “They really covered the receivers well and it was hard to find someone to throw to.”

During a rain delay, Martin went into the Rose football offense and glanced at the Gryphons workout charts. Rose has 10 players who have run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds or faster. Athens has none.

As far as the individual match-up between the varsity rookie starter and one of the nation’s best, Smith said he thought he did all right.

“He was much bigger and stronger than me. I could tell that right away,” he said. “When he’d bull-rush me, I’d back up and then push back like I was suppose to. I think I did OK. On the running plays, I think I did my job most of the time.”

Athens rebounded from the opening loss to defeat Broughton 22-21. The Jaguars rushed for 306 yards, including 264 by Dominique Lynch.

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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