By MIKE TANKERSLEY
The Arab Tribune
Before he coached his first game at Arab, Lee Ozmint said over and over again, he didn’t know what kind of team the 2019 Knights would turn out to be.
Progress has been made, he knew, but there were too many uncertainties, especially on defense, to be sure.
But on one point, there was absolutely no uncertainty:
“We will score some points,” Ozmint said.
And the Knights have – lots of them.
And several offensive players are having banner seasons, even potential record-breaking ones.
Through five games – the halfway point of the season – Arab has scored 218 points heading into last night’s game at Scottsboro. That’s 36.3 points per game.
By comparison, the 2014 Knights – led by prolific sophomore quarterback Daulton Hyatt – scored 308 points in 11 games, 28 points per game.
Arab’s 2019 offense also starts at quarterback – but it doesn’t end there.
Senior Ross Reynolds is putting up numbers that rival those put up in Hyatt in 2014, and Hyatt’s passing stats that season were widely viewed as team records.
He passed for 2,250 yards and 16 TDs to go along with 745 yards rushing and five TDs to lead Arab to a 7-4 record and a playoff berth. The season propelled him to stardom among high school quarterbacks in the state (he was 6A Region 7 Offensive MVP) and ultimately led to him signing with Arkansas after finishing his senior year at Etowah.
Reynolds, who has come on like gangbusters this year following a season-ending injury in Week 4 of 2018, is on pace to match or surpass Hyatt’s passing marks. He has completed 86 of 121 passes, a 71 percent completion rate. In 2014, Hyatt completed 163 of 256 passes for a 64 percent clip.
Reynolds has thrown for 1,245 yards, a little more than half of what Hyatt passed for in 11 games. Reynolds has tossed 14 touchdowns compared to Hyatt’s 16 and has at least five games remaining.
While not team records, both Hyatt and Reynolds have good numbers in the running department. Reynolds, in fact, is more than halfway toward eclipsing Hyatt’s rushing stats. He’s carried the ball 80 times for 523 yards and seven touchdowns.
Reynolds also has been surprisingly consistent. He’s had monster games almost every week:
• He was 13 of 18 passing for 207 yards and four touchdowns against Boaz. He also ran 20 times for 94 yards.
• Against West Point, Reynolds was 12 of 18 passing for 177 yards and a TD. He also ran 20 times for 137 yards and three TDs.
• Against Brewer, he was 15 of 22 passing for 196 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries.
• Against Ardmore – the team that knocked him out in 2018 – Reynolds got his revenge in a big way. He was 13 of 18 passing for 210 yards and three touchdowns and he ran five times for 36 yards and two TDs – all before sitting out the fourth quarter.
• Against Guntersville, he was 17 of 23 passing for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He ran 17 times for 116 yards and one TD.
• Last week against East Limestone, he was 16 of 22 passing for 232 yards and three TDs. He has six times for 80 yards and one TD.
While the offense starts with Reynolds, it certainly doesn’t end there. Somebody’s catching all these passes.
That main somebody is senior Colby King, playing just his first season of varsity football. King surprised teams early, but he’s continued to be a productive receiver. He’s caught 29 passes for a whopping 617 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s caught three TDs in a game three times: against Boaz in the opener, against Ardmore in Week 4 and against East Limestone last week.
Senior Will Hudson also is a major Reynolds target. He’s caught 26 passes for 294 yards and four TDs. Alex Alcala has also been a useful receiver, catching 12 passes for 141 yards and one TD.
Senior Kent Tyler, also playing his first season of football, has eight receptions – several in critical situation – for 66 yards.
Although the passing game electrifies the fans, it’s the running game that sets everything up, and Reynolds has done a good job making reads at the line. That said, Mathew Turnage has been a beast most games (he was slowed by injury in parts of two games).
Turnage has carried the ball 97 times for 718 yards and eight TDs. He’s rushed for more than 100 yards in all but two games and in the opener came up just 2 yards short of the century mark. He made up for that the next game against West Point when ran for 202 yards and two TDs.
As a team, Arab is averaging 232.5 yards rushing (1,395 total) and 207.5 yards passing (1,245).
That’s 440 yards of total offense per game (2,640 yards total).
It appears, Ozmint certainly knew what he was talking about.