With a one-possession lead late in the third quarter, Stanhope Elmore faced a third down deep inside its own territory and the Mustangs turned to a play it hadn’t used to that point. Quarterback Andrew Rines completed his first pass of the night with 2:40 to go in the quarter with a 12-yard strike to Conner Bradford to convert the third down.
Ten plays later, Rines completed his second pass with a fade pass to Bradford in the right corner of the end zone to give Stanhope all the breathing room it needed to take down Wetumpka for the second straight season. Rines finished with 154 yards and two touchdowns to earn Elmore County Player of the Week honors.
“Every once in a while, a throwing play will throw me off a little bit,” Rines said. “But it’s not too bad because I always have to be ready for the inevitable. When I get to make throws like that, I get pretty excited about it. I don’t jump around and all that but I was really excited about that one.”
Stanhope called only three passing plays while running the ball 50 times so Rines did not take on the role of a normal quarterback in the rivalry game. The Mustangs started the night with an 11-play touchdown drive featuring only rushing plays, and that set the tone for the game.
“They can score on any play so we knew we wanted to run as much as possible to keep the clock running and keep their offense off the field,” Stanhope coach Brian Bradford said. “That was the game plan going in. We wanted to throw the ball more but we were having so much success running the ball so we wanted to keep that up.”
Rines still got to play a big role in that game plan as he showed off his abilities in the rushing attack. After handing the ball off eight times to Tray Duncan on the first drive, Rines called his own number by faking a pitch before taking it in from 10 yards out to open the scoring.
“I knew the guy was coming for Tray so when I faked the pitch, I knew there would be a big hole there for me to hit,” Rines said. “I was confident about getting in.”
Duncan got 34 of the team’s 50 rushing attempts which got the defense to focus on him, allowing Rines to find space when he did keep the ball. Rines averaged 8.6 yards per carry and recorded five rushes of 10 or more yards, the same amount as Duncan.
“They got a lot of Duncan in their vision,” Bradford said. “We knew going in they were going to key in on him so we knew when we did call the read plays or the runs for Andrew, it would be a little more open than normal. Everything was right on Tray so you kind of lull them to sleep and the next thing you know, the little kid is running around the end and gone.”
At 5-foot-8, 150 pounds, Rines constantly finds ways to make bigger defenders miss tackles against him. He has recorded a rushing touchdown in all six of Stanhope’s wins.
“Everyone usually sees me as the small guy and they don’t think I’m very fast,” Rines said. “So my philosophy running the ball is prove them wrong. Show them something they haven’t seen before.”
Rines took over the starting quarterback position after projected starter Jalen Walker dealt with some health issues just before the season. The Mustangs were in desperate need of a quarterback and Rines stepped in. Bradford said Rines has improved drastically every week and he is a big reason why Stanhope has had so much success.
“He has always been one of the leaders and we knew that going in,” Bradford said. “We knew we had to find him a place on the field so when we had the situation with Jalen’s health, we thought we would try it and run some wildcat stuff with him. There’s been no looking back ever since.”