Senior running back Nyheim Hines has rarely been on the field in the fourth quarter of Garner’s football games this season, instead watching from the sideline after the Trojans have built big leads.
Such was the case Friday night. The Trojans were up 38-0 at halftime against Wilmington Laney and Hines had 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Hines and the offense were not the story in this game. The Trojans’ special teams and defense combined to score five touchdowns in a 45-6 first-round 4AA playoff victory.
Hines was sitting on the trainer’s table with ice on his left knee after one carry in the third quarter. Hines finished with 94 yards to increase his season’s total to 2,155 yards.
The injury was minor, Trojans coach Thurman Leach said.
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“He might have a slight bruise,” Leach said. “He’ll be ready to go next week.”
Hines has played the entire game for the 11-1 Trojans just once this season, in a season-opening 28-21 loss to Middle Creek. In Garner’s 11 victories, he has carried the ball more than 20 times just three times. In three games, including the Laney victory, he has had less than 10 carries.
Against Broughton, Hines had 235 yards on eight carries and scored four touchdowns in a 63-13 rout. The following week, Hines had 98 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground against Cary and also caught three touchdown passes.
He’s been productive, rushing for 36 touchdowns. And efficient, averaging 18 carries per game and 10 yards per carry. Hines has been held below 100 yards just twice in 12 games and has topped 200 yards six times.
If he bounces back quickly from Friday’s injury as expected, Hines figures to get more carries per game as the Trojans continue in the playoffs.
“He has carried the ball an average of eight times less (per game) this season,” Leach said. “He doesn’t have as much mileage on those legs as he did in the past. He’s looking fresher and has a little more bounce in him (than he did at the end of the regular season last year).
“You carry a ball 30 times a game over a long stretch, it takes a toll on you.”
Hines is ready to do whatever it takes for the Trojans to advance in the playoffs.
“You do whatever you have to do to win,” Hines said. “If I have to be out there in the fourth quarter, that’s OK. I just want to get to the states, honestly.
“I want to do what it takes. Twenty yards or 200 yards, I don’t care. As long as we have more points than the other team, I’m satisfied.”
One opposing coach this season summed up what it is like to play Garner: “They have Nyheim Hines and we don’t.”
Leach also knows that Hines is the key for the Trojans.
“He’s been the rock,” Leach said, “and he’s going to continue to be the rock.”