Chestatee running back Nick Lyles and his center Barron King decided to make a little wager at last Monday’s team practice: If Lyles found a way to score five touchdowns, King would have to shave his head the following week.
And as Lyles crossed the goal line for the fifth and final time during Friday night’s 47-30 win over Fannin County — a career high for the junior — King hoisted his running back in the air, not realizing he had just lost the bet.
“That’s five, you gotta shave it,” joked Lyles to the forgetful King.
“Aw crap!” King said in response.
King was actually fine with losing the bet, because it indicates the offensive line must have been doing something right. Lyle’s bet-winning score was the culmination of a breakout night for the War Eagles (2-2). The offense tallied 649 yards of offense, Lyles setting the pace from the backfield with a season-high 243 yards (75 long) on 17 carries to earn the Times Player of the Week distinction.
“He’s the type kid that can take a game over, and it’s good to have that in the backfield,” Chestatee coach Shaun Conley said.
Wide receiver Baylee Camp also caught 11 balls for a career-high 177 yards, and quarterback Storm Yarbrough completed 21 of 32 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown.
As he always does, Lyles gave props to his offensive line which includes, Skyler Gooch, King, Gavin London, Chance Morrison and Seth Sertain.
“We just have a good relationship,” Lyles said of the group up front. “Every time I would score, either them or Dick (Jacob) Goodall would be the first one’s down there to jump up with me.”
Sure enough, King held his end of the bargain, showing up to Monday’s practice with a visibly buzzed noggin. It’s light-hearted moments like those that indicate what type of teammate Lyles is. Conley said he always carries a positive demeanor, and a smile.
“I can’t say enough about him as far as just liking to be around him,” said the first-year head coach for Chestatee. “His teammates love him to death, his teachers love him, he’s just a great kid.”
This same young man to experience the hardships of an 18-game losing streak is finally reaping the fruits of his labor as a junior. Friday night’s breakout performance was also his second 200-plus yard performance in four games, and has yet to finish under 100 rushing yards.
To date, Lyles has rushed for 795 yards — on pace for nearly 2,000 for the season — and 13 total touchdowns, averaging 8 1/4 yards per carry as the War Eagles’ workhorse back, and adds seven catches for 164 yards in the passing game. Lyles also attributes that success to a work ethic instilled by Conley and the Chestatee coaching staff.
“I’m telling ya, he comes to work every day, and it’s paying off for him,” Conley added. “He missed very few times in the offseason. … He’s seeing the benefits of that right now. The thing about Nick is, he understands that it’s not just about Nick. It’s about those guys up front. ...He’s very humble, and he appreciates it.”
Gooch can attest.
“He would give anything for the team. He has definitely paid his price and showed how committed he is,” said the senior guard. “I definitely enjoy blocking for him, knowing he will take it to the house and run the ball as hard as he can.”
Like Lyles, the War Eagles as a unit overcame much adversity to start the year. Conley’s team came within a touchdown of defeating North Hall in the season opener, and snapped an 18-game losing streak the following week in a storm-ridden contest.
“We’ve been working hard during the summer, and through the spring, and that paid off,” Lyles said. “Everybody just got focused. Coach talked to us about how everybody has to be locked in, just focused to play, and we just did that.”
Chestatee has Lumpkin County (1-1) next at the Burial Grounds this Friday.