Drew Pickett

Holtville freshman Drew Pickett finished with 134 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against Central Coosa.

Before the season began, Holtville coach Jason Franklin said freshman running back Drew Pickett had a chance to be special but neither of them expected for the young talent to be showcased so early. Pickett received a team-high 17 carries during Holtville’s 41-0 win over Central Coosa and he turned it into 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his varsity debut to earn the Elmore County Player of the Week honors.

“I was just ready to show the team what I could do,” Pickett said. “I want to show I’m good enough to play with these guys. They push me to play to the best of my abilities.”

The Bulldogs entered the season opener with hopes of playing some of the team’s younger players but Pickett was pushed into a bigger role with JJ Jackson missing time in the backfield. Kolby Potts is still Holtville’s No. 1 option in the backfield but Pickett turned it on once he got the opportunity.

“We have been alternating him and Kolby,” Holtville coach Jason Franklin said. “He got a bulk of the carries after it got out of hand early. It always helps getting the young guys more reps to get them ready for the rest of the season.”

Pickett will continue to see carries as one of the top two options in the backfield with Potts. Pickett said he is cherishing the opportunity to share the backfield with talent he can look up to and he can learn from.

“It gives us a tremendous 1-2 punch,” Franklin said. “We really have two steady guys we can count on back there. For the young guys, it’s all about confidence. There was no doubt he could play but to give him confidence he can go out and compete in a varsity game.”

The Bulldogs have surrounded Pickett in the backfield with plenty of experience to help with the transition to varsity. Quarterbacks Drake Baker and Braxton Buck along with Potts and Hunter Martin have multiple years on Pickett but Franklin said that has had no effect on the relationships within the team.

“They don’t really look at each other like that,” Franklin said. “If you can go out and produce, so be it. Grade level doesn’t have anything to do with that. If he can play, he’s going to be on the field. It just happens to be that he’s a freshman.”

While there is plenty of focus on Holtville’s passing attack for good reason, Pickett and Potts have proven opponents will have to prepare for an extremely balanced offense. Franklin said the two players complement each other’s talents and they are going to continue to split carries in the backfield.

“Drew’s vision is just tremendous,” Franklin said. “Kolby is more of a downhill, outside runner but Drew can run between the tackles. He can see the cut before it’s even there. Both of them have their strong skill sets so we’ll keep them in position to be successful.”

Pickett said he was not expecting to get his chance so early but he was clearly ready to make the most of the opportunity. He has high hopes for the rest of the season but whether it’s from the sideline or in the backfield, he knows he has to be ready on every snap.

“They’re telling me to work hard and run hard on every play,” Pickett said. “It’s no plays off here. And you have to get work in and off the field. They’re just keeping me up with them.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.