Collin Eaddy knew last week’s second-round N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA football playoff game was win or go home. He wasn’t aware of the legacy he was going to uphold.
In the 54-37 victory against Richmond County, Eaddy and his blockers helped keep alive a streak that explains the success of Garner football over the last three decades as well as any other.
He gave Garner a 1,000-yard rusher for the 33rd straight season, dating back to 1984 when a freshman named Anthony Barbour, now head coach at Jordan High, first set foot on the campus off Spring Drive. The list includes names like former NFL player Richard Medlin, current Miami Dolphins player Chris Culliver and Barbour, who set a national record for rushing touchdowns while leading Garner to a 1987 state title.
“He’s a typical Garner Trojan tailback. You’ve got to be a very special young man to play that position,” Garner coach Thurman Leach said of Eaddy. “He fits that mold. He’s a competitor, he’s a worker and like all of them that played that spot right there are going to give you 100 percent. There’s no difference between any Garner tailback. You could take that one from 1985 and they’d be doing the same thing that they’re doing right now.”
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Eaddy, who set the mark at the South Garner campus because the old one is under construction, ran for 196 yards against Richmond County and now has 1,096 on the year despite missing two full games and parts of others due to turf toe.
“I turned around on Monday and bought the linemen pizza,” said Eaddy, showing that he’s got a good head on his shoulders to go with the book smarts it takes to earn his acceptance into Harvard and gain recruiting interest by a number of service academies and Ivy League schools.
This is the second straight time Eaddy has hit the mark, taking the torch from Nyheim Hines, who’s now a wide receiver at N.C. State. Eaddy was a sophomore when Hines set the Garner single-season rushing record as a senior in 2014.
“Learning from Nyheim was definitely big for me. A lot of stuff that I’m able to do now I learned from him,” Eaddy said. “I learned it much quicker than I would have if he wasn’t around, so I’m thankful for him and to be at a storied program like Garner.”
One of the games Eaddy missed due to injury was a Labor Day weekend showdown with Middle Creek.
Eaddy said it was hard to watch as the Mustangs won 30-10. The 20-point margin is the closest anyone has come to beating Middle Creek (13-0). Garner (12-1) started a 10-game win streak the following week and got Eaddy back two weeks later. The two meet again Friday at Middle Creek.
“They’ve got to account for (Eaddy), and up front we’re playing better than we were the first time,” Leach said. “The offensive line keeps doing what they’re doing and giving him the opportunity to run the football and we’ll be all right.”
There’s another streak at stake here as well. Garner’s victory over Richmond County cut into the Raiders’ all-time series lead, 3-2. In the previous four meetings, all in the postseason, the winner has gone on to win the state championship.
J. Mike Blake: @JMBpreps
Garner’s 1,000-yard rushers
2016: Collin Eaddy
2015: Collin Eaddy
2014: Nyheim Hines
2013: Nyheim Hines
2012: Raevon Smith
2011: Juwan Moye & Demetrius Fairley
2010: Juwan Moye & AJ Clanton
2009: Juwan Moye
2008: Justin Conyers
2007: Josh Oglesby & Darrice Payton
2006: Chris Culliver & Josh Oglesby
2005: Richard Medlin
2004: Richard Medlin
2003: Treavor Primus
2002: Mike Riddick
2001: Tim Bridges
2000: Tim Bridges
1999: Tim Bridges & Sean Jackson
1998: Marcus Bland & Elliott London
1997: Marcus Bland & Chad Laws
1996: Marcus Bland & Mike Broadway
1995: Justin Richardson & Eric Clark
1994: Justin Richardson
1993: James Payne
1992: James Payne
1991: Marvin Hodge
1990: Marvin Hodge
1989: John Leach
1988: John Leach
1987: Anthony Barbour
1986: Anthony Barbour
1985: Anthony Barbour
1984: Anthony Barbour