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Football Player of the Week: North Hall's Imani Cross

POSTED: October 4, 2010 8:51 p.m.

Player of the Week Imani Cross

North Hall's Imani Cross is this week's football Player of the Week.

Offseason strength and agility drills are supposed to ensure that a football player continues to improve and stay healthy while not practicing every day.

But sometimes, things don’t go as planned.

As North Hall’s Imani Cross went through a backpedaling drill during the Trojans’ offseason workouts last spring, he heard a sound that every athlete fears: a pop near his ankle.

“It sounded like a balloon,” Cross said.

The pop turned out to be a torn Achilles tendon and led to more than four months of rehab.

That’s all behind Cross now, as he proved Friday night with a four-touchdown, 189-yard performance in North Hall’s 55-38 win over Chestatee.

For his efforts, Cross is The Times’ Football Player of the Week.

“If felt great,” Cross said of his performance.

Cross had touchdown runs of 59, 1, 42 and 34 yards Friday and averaged 18.9 yards per carry. Along with Clay Quinn, Mack VanGorder, Randy Olson and Shane Doster, Cross and the North Hall running game accounted for every North Hall touchdown. The Trojans ran the ball 33 times for 523 yards, while only throwing it 12 times. Four of those passes were completions and totaled 50 yards.

That’s a run-pass ratio of almost 3-to-1, which is just fine with North Hall’s coach, Bob Christmas.

“We’ve got a stable of backs,” Christmas said. “And we feel our running game is one of our strengths.”

Cross made his initial return to the Trojans two weeks ago at Walnut Grove and scored two touchdowns in limited playing time in a game North Hall won 40-0.

Even with his performance against Chestatee, one that saw him cutting across field and making moves that have the college scouts interested, Cross still admits to worrying about re-injuring his tendon.

“I do sometimes, I’m not going to lie to you,” Cross said. “Sometimes I’ll have thoughts in my head that I just don’t want it to ever happen again.

“Sometimes a thought comes in: ‘just be careful, Imani’ but that’s more before the fact than when I’m out there running.”

Christmas believes that, despite how well Cross played against Chestatee, the running back will only get better.

“He’ll get his confidence back more and more and his speed will keep improving,” Christmas said. “He’s going to have some great games.”

When it comes to the specifics of why Cross is a runner that schools such as Georgia Tech, Clemson and Nebraska have shown an interest in, Christmas points to two talents that can’t be coached.

“He’s got that big frame (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) and he’s got great vision,” Christmas said. “He’s just a special football player.”

Christmas will need Cross and the rest of the North Hall running backs to have big games this week.

The Trojans play host to subregion rival White County at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a battle that will likely decide which team gets the No. 1 seed in Region 8A-AAA.

“We’re really hyped,” Cross said of the this week’s game. “We know that we really need this win.”

Whoever emerges as the champion of the subregion will play for the region title during the last week of the season and earn an automatic berth in the state playoffs, a place North Hall has been every year since 2006.


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