ST. PETERSBURG — Cortavious Givens carried would-be Indian Rocks Christian tacklers for extra yards, then arose from the scrum and gave his coaches the popular spoon-to-mouth gesture.
"Cortavious said, 'Feed me and I'll take care of it,' " AFA coach Ryan Hearn said. "When a great player does that, you feed him. He held up his end of the bargain."
Givens finished with 17 carries for 109 yards and helped the Blue Jackets to a 17-10 win last week over the Golden Eagles. In a way, it was a coming-out party for Givens. Or more appropriately, an "I'm back" party.
Givens, 5-foot-10, 220 pounds of solid muscle, tore his ACL in September 2011. He returned last season but had only 22 carries while mostly playing middle linebacker. Big colleges, like Florida and Florida State, that had sent letters stopped writing after the injury.
Other schools liked him as a linebacker. If he was going to get back on the Division I radar, he would have to show he's completely healed from injury.
"I'm a senior; I'm ready to get these highlights out," Givens said. "I'm ready to get the big offers. All the coaches from the Division I schools tell me they need to see the film. I'm going to give it to them."
Givens, playing with a chip on his shoulder, plans to run around and over as many opponents as possible this season. It continues tonight in a key Class 3A-5 game against St. Petersburg Catholic.
"I just need the ball and I'll help us win the game," Givens said. "I don't care who we're playing — CCC, SPC, whoever. I don't see anybody over there. Just give me the ball."
Stopping the running game will certainly be key for the Barons — and Admiral Farragut.
AFA (1-1) has Givens while the Barons (2-1) boast the trio of Jacquan Fuller, Tony Jones and Stephon Williams. Fuller leads the team with 36 carries for 294 yards and six touchdowns. Jones isn't far behind with 274 yards and three touchdowns. And Williams has 196 yards and three scores.
All of the Barons' 13 touchdowns have come via the run.
"We've got a nice running game right now," SPC coach Steve Dudley said. "Jacquan is very fast, and Tony and Stephon just run right over people."
Fuller spent his sophomore year trying to fill in for an injured Ryan Green (now at Florida State). Fuller played in five games and gained 424 yards. This season, he doesn't have the pressure of trying to be Green.
"I don't have to take every carry," Fuller said. "There's other guys on this team who can get yards. My job is to get to open space and make people miss."
Jones, a sophomore, doesn't mind his role. Especially since he gets to play with a family member.
"When I'm up at fullback I just block my butt off for Jacquan," Jones said. "And then when I'm at running back Jacquan blocks for me. Hey, we're cousins. We do that stuff for each other."
Rodney Page can be reached at [email protected].com or on Twitter @RodneyHomeTeam.