Sports

Ever-humble Smith leads Hutch into title game

You can go ahead and call him the best product pumped out of the Hutchinson High School football pipeline, but Josh Smith will insist that, really, it has nothing to do with Josh Smith.

The 4,722 yards rushing accumulated over three seasons?

"Throughout all the years we just have had unbelievable lines blocking for us," Smith said. "They've done a tremendous job. They make our jobs pretty easy really."

The 86 career touchdowns and almost eight-yard per carry average over 600 carries?

"All I have to do is run straight and then hopefully I can outrun the defenders," Smith said.

Clearly, Smith is being modest. And, all humility aside, he will play as key a role in the Class 5A state championship Saturday against undefeated Gardner-Edgerton as any player on the field. While his role in the title game is clear _ Hutchinson is going for its sixth straight state title _ his future once the final buzzer sounds at Welch Stadium in Emporia is not.

Division I colleges have shunned Smith because of his size _ 5-foot-10, 215 pounds _ and only Hutchinson Community College has offered him a scholarship so far.

"I just feel honored to have gotten the attention that I have gotten," Smith said. "If I don't receive any big time scholarships, it's just whatever happens, happens."

For now, Smith still has time to defer credit for his success to others.

"People know we're going to run," he said. "The coaches always have a tremendous game plan for every week. We know we can execute, even though (defenses) have all those guys stacked in the box." Add Smith's backfield mate, Deveon Dinwiddie, into the mix and those defense, however well prepared, seem to tumble and fall.

"You can do everything right as a defense and they can still make you miss or run you over," Salthawks coach Randy Dreiling said.

In their three years playing together, the duo has combined for over 8,000 rushing yards, 146 touchdowns and almost a first down every time they touch the ball.

"When Josh gets the ball, we know it's going to be a hard-nosed run up the middle," center Evan Wilder said. "When it's Deveon, then we have to run (quickly) to get to the outside and make sure we cut everybody out."

With the fitting attributes, the obvious nickname has followed the tandem around.

"We call it 'Thunder and Lightning,' " Dinwiddie said. "He's going to pound you and loosen you up and then I'm going to outrun you and give you some juice."

Dinwiddie, true to form, wanted to include the offensive line in the nickname, too.

"Maybe the offensive line can be the wind or something," he said.

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