Horatio Blades thinks his running back duo will win Indian Land a couple more games this season.
First glance, Jacob Carroll and Tyree Sistare are complete anatomic opposites but their shared versatility gives Blades' new-look spread offense a dangerous pair of weapons.
“With our line being so strong this year I really do think we're gonna do something special in the run game,” said Carroll, a junior. “I think we bring that 1-2 punch.”
Sistare is a 5 feet, 3 inch-tall sophomore, but he's packed on 20 pounds to his frame this past offseason. Blades said Sistare can squat lift over 600 pounds.
“He really dedicated himself on getting stronger,” said Blades, who is a first-year head coach. “You would see his size and think automatically he's just a speed guy but he runs between the tackles and runs hard. He's a hard guy to get down.”
Sistare’s increase in size and age is emblematic of a Warriors team that’s done the same thing this offseason after winning two games in 2016. It’s still unclear if their sweat and toil has them on par with schools like Lancaster, who Indian Land faces Friday night. The 4A Bruins demolished the Warriors in last year’s matchup, 47-10.
“It was very physical,” Sistare said, remembering the game. “They wouldn't stop pounding. It went on and on and on.”
Blades and the Warriors hope Carroll can give some of the pounding back this fall. Five-foot-10 and 200 pounds, he offers a more physical presence than Sistare. Carroll and his family moved to Indian Land last spring from just over the North Carolina border. As a sophomore backup, Carroll rushed for nearly 800 yards, going well over 100 in a second round playoff win.
“I think he can be special,” said Blades.
Carroll enrolled at Indian Land in time for spring football and he says he’s feeling embedded in the program. It didn’t hurt that Blades had Warrior football players help the Carroll family pack up their old house before moving.
“It was a really good experience,” Carroll said of the spring session. “I really like all my teammates and am really starting to bond with them.”
A Charlotte Observer article last year mentioned that Carroll has dyslexia, and when asked about it earlier this week he had no problem discussing the condition. He mixes up some letters, the letter “p” especially, but it doesn’t hinder his ability to learn. He just has to work a little harder than most in school or learning play calls.
Carroll does well in school, which fits in at Indian Land where Blades’ football team has a cumulative 3.4 grade point average. Intelligence helps, but the Warriors still have to make athletic plays on the field. They’ll lean on Sistare and Carroll to provide much of that out of the backfield, and in Sistare’s case, also from the slot.
He’s spent plenty of quality time with the Juggs machine, which launches footballs at him for as long as he wants. Sistare will be a serious threat post-catch because of his speed and elusiveness. Carroll, who played in a spread formation at Marvin Ridge, can catch the football, too.
“Getting the ball in their hands is gonna be huge for us,” said Blades.
Lancaster, with its stout front seven and superior physical size and roster depth, will provide a stern initial test of Blades’ theory. And of Indian Land football’s progress as a whole.
"It's gonna be a great measuring stick," Blades said. "The players, the coaches, the community is excited. I'm getting the jitters already. The kids can sense it, they can feel the turnaround and to get out there and actually compete and put last year behind us, everybody's excited."