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Football Player of the Week: Chestatee's Ben Souther
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Chestatee High running back Ben Souther has big shoes to fill, if tradition holds steady in the War Eagle football program. Playing in an option-based offense, the War Eagles’ running backs will get plenty of chances to show what they can do with the ball.

Souther, a junior, looks to become the third installment in Chestatee’s history of successful running backs.

The 6-2, 200 pound running back follows in the footsteps of Lane Vasser, a 2007 graduate, that became the first War Eagle to rush over 1,000 yards in a season with 1,358 yards in 2005.

Then came Jo Jo Sweet, a 2008 Chestatee graduate, that broke Vasser’s record last season with 1,442 yards of his own.

Whether Souther is ready or not to take the helm as the next candidate for a new school rushing record may have been proven when he rushed for 271 yards with four touchdowns in the War Eagles’ 56-38 win against Johnson last Friday in Oakwood.

"I just came out and did what I’m required to do for my team," Souther said about his performance. "I remember I looked at my teammates at halftime and said I wasn’t going to lose again."

Souther didn’t have to lose again, referring to Chestatee’s 35-0 loss against Gainesville in Week 1. Instead, he had two long touchdown runs — 64 and 85 yards — that lifted the War Eagles (1-1) to a 35-point second half.

"The team didn’t put a lot of pressure on me, I put a lot of pressure on myself," Souther said. "We had a lot of trouble finishing plays in the first half, so I knew I had to strike every time I had the ball."

Through Chestatee’s two games this season, Souther has amassed 359 yards and four touchdowns in 33 carries. Should he continue the season at the same pace, he’ll be on track for 1,795 yards — another school single-season rushing record.

"I think he would like to break Jo Jo’s (Sweet) rushing record from last year," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. "But we don’t set individual goals for our players. We challenge our players to set individual goals for themselves."

Although Souther had no problem breaking open for long rushes last week, his speed is not the active ingredient to his success. In fact, his 40-yard dash time clocks only "in the high 4.6 (second) range," according to Luttrell.

"Ben is faster on the grass than he is in the 40," Luttrell said. "He has out run guys on the field that run much faster than him."

Instead, Souther uses his powerful frame to break tackles and shed defenders to get away from them.

"Right now I think he’d rather out run somebody than go through them," Luttrell said. "We’re working really hard to make him a power runner,"

Souther has also had the privilege of having another running back supporting him. Senior Peyton Bazzell, another third of the War Eagles’ triple-option, has relived Souther of short-rushing duties, including a one-yard touchdown against Johnson last week.

"We’ve really grown together," Souther said. "Last year, there wasn’t much of a relationship. We just let Jo Jo do his thing and we’d back him up the best we could.

"We’ve definitely gained a lot together."

But the player he considers his best friend on team is the other third in the triple option: his older brother, senior quarterback Ethan Souther.

"Everybody dreams about playing with their brother," he said. "We’ve been playing together for about ten years. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of my brother."

"They have a unique relationship," Luttrell said. "You can tell that they they’ve played a lot of backyard games."

While the brothers only get this season together before Ethan graduates, Ben will get another season in 2009, a scary thought for other teams in Region 7-AAA.

"Ben definitely has the size and the speed, and if he can put more games together like he did last week he can be a college prospect," Luttrell said. "We can’t control whether colleges recruit Ben, but we can build Ben Souther and the rest of this team in to good, solid, hard-nosed young men."

For Souther, a region title would go along nicely with the character-building his coach hopes for.

"If we work 110 percent every week, where we will go is limited to where our team wants to go," he said. "We have a tough region and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want to fight back, so we have to work harder and improve every week if want to reach a goal like that."

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