Eric Haywood isn’t just running past defenders. He’s racing up the Pioneer record book.
Warren County’s offensive star through three games has been its senior tailback. Haywood has topped 100 yards in each of the team’s first three games, matching Raleigh Woods’ start in 2016 for the most times hitting the century mark to begin a campaign since Tom Moore took over in 2014.
Haywood is a much different runner than Woods, a 230-pound bruiser who was injured in the third game and didn’t get a chance to pad his numbers the rest of the year. Haywood has shown the ability to be a home-run threat, already scoring on an 85-yard run against DeKalb County to go along with longs of 41 yards in a win at Sparta and a 55-yard gallop in Cookeville.
Haywood’s speed and running style more closely resembles the last Pioneer back to crack 1,000 yards in a season - Caleb Northcutt in 2010. Northcutt helped rewrite the record books in his senior season, finishing with 1,244 yards and 14 touchdowns – boosted by a pair of 200-yard, four-touchdown games.
Haywood is on a similar pace as Northcutt was in 2010. Through three games, Haywood has racked up 388 yards and two touchdowns. Eight years ago, Northcutt had amassed 406 yards and three touchdowns in three games, with both teams having matching 1-2 records.
The Pioneer speedster is near the top of the district in rushing through three games as well. Haywood’s total yardage ranks just below Blackman’s Ta’Micus Napier (406 yards) and Riverdale’s Drew Smith (428 yards).
Haywood will get a chance to run up the yardage this Friday when the Pioneers welcome Shelbyville for the team’s first home game. Shelbyville (1-1) was stout against the run in an opening win over Tullahoma, allowing just 94 yards on the ground. The Eagle defense was gashed two weeks ago by Marshall County though, allowing 265 rushing yards in a 24-21 loss. Shelbyville was off last week.
Friday’s game will be homecoming for the Pioneers.