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South buoyed by running of Boyd

MT file photo

Hard work, attention to detail help diminutive back string 100-yard games together

Jeremy Boyd is one of the smallest players in the Southern Oregon Conference and he runs behind one of the smallest and most inexperienced offensive lines.

He's not big and he's not particularly fast.

Boyd really has no business being ranked among the leading rushers in the conference, particularly since his team -- the South Medford Panthers -- has yet to win a game.

But the 5-foot-7, 150-pound senior has produced back-to-back 100-yard games and now has 309 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers' five games.

He is the No. 6 rusher in the SOC.

What Jeremy has accomplished is a tribute to his work ethic and his pride, South Medford coach Bill Singler says. He gets as much out of his ability as any player I've coached.

He might be small in stature, but he's got the heart of a lion.

Boyd ran for 115 yards and one touchdown in last week's 35-12 loss to Ashland, and he gained 123 yards the previous week in a 32-12 loss to South Eugene.

How is it that Boyd, who had never topped the 100-yard mark in 12 previous games as the South Medford starting tailback, is suddenly racking up big numbers?

He's running with his head up, and he's making people miss, Singler says. Last year, he ran with his head down, and he didn't break very many tackles.

A case in point came in last week's game against the defending state champion Grizzlies. Boyd, running a sweep, juked out Kris Pavilionis, one of the better defensive backs in the SOC, at the line of scrimmage and turned it into a 7-yard touchdown run.

Boyd's development as a running back took a big jump last summer when he attended a camp at Southern Oregon University.

That's when I really started to read the holes and run to daylight, Boyd says. That's when I started to sidestep guys instead of run right at them. There were some quality teams there and I felt by the end of the week that I was a much better player.

Boyd also credits former North Medford High star Mat Davis with enhancing his running skills. The pair met through mutual friends last summer, and Boyd soon found himself out on the practice field going through a series of agility drills.

He showed me a couple of moves and stressed how important it was to explode into a hole as fast as you can, Boyd says. I don't have Mat's speed, but you don't have to be a world-class sprinter to be a good running back.

The South Medford offensive line has just one starter back from a year ago -- left tackle Johnny Peterson -- which makes Boyd's numbers all the more impressive.

Our line has started to come around, and that's a big reason Jeremy has topped the 100-yard mark the past two weeks, Singler says. You can't do it by yourself.

Although Boyd is listed at 5-7 in the program, he admits to being only 5-5. But he's strong for his size -- he can bench press 235 pounds and he's hoisted 345 pounds on the squat rack.

He's worked as hard as anyone in the program, Singler says. He's a classic example of an athlete reaching his potential.

He's one of the guys I'm going to remember for helping to build the program here at South.

Boyd played soccer during his elementary school days before getting hooked on football in the sixth grade.

I played on an unbeaten flag team, and from that point forward, football has been my favorite sport, Boyd says. Win, lose or draw, I like being out there on a Friday night.

Boyd, who also starts on defense as a cornerback, admits he'd be having more fun if South Medford was winning. The Panthers will have their best chance of putting a W in the books tonight at Spiegelberg Stadium when they meet Klamath Union, the SOC's other winless team.

Everyone loves to win and everyone loves a winner, Boyd says. Our guys are trying their hardest, and hopefully by the end of the season we'll have a couple of wins under our belts.

But even more important than winning is how tough of a fight you put up.

Or, like the old saying goes, it's not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the dog.

Boyd may be a Chihauhau in a land of Labradors and Saint Bernards, but he knows how to run with the big dogs.

South Medford running back Jeremy Boyd (20), a senior, has climbed to No. 6 in the Southern Oregon Conference rushing statistics.