It’s amazing what a little confidence can do for the game of Cambren Harrison.
Just don’t be the one who gets in his way — that’s a general rule of thumb for any opposing team.
It certainly did wonders for East Hall High’s junior tailback last Friday night, more than enough to merit Times Player of the Week honors. Harrison racked up 155 rushing yards and a touchdown while adding another 150 yards and a score on seven catches in the Vikings’ 59-37 win over crosstown foe Chestatee.
Harrison’s ability and potential has been present from the beginning, said East Hall coach Bryan Gray. And going into Friday night, the game plan against a well-coached and disciplined Chestatee defense was quite simple: Find a way to boost the confidence of his power back.
“We wanted to get him the ball for at least 20 carries, and that was our goal,” the coach said of Harrison.
Things started clicking a little after the Vikings went down a touchdown just minutes into the first quarter, and it really got going for Harrison once they caught steam a little before intermission.
“In the middle of the second quarter you could really start to see our offensive line figure out things, and you really started to see him get a full head of steam moving forward,” Gray added. “You started to see his confidence, and he just kind of took over the game.”
Stacked against another Hall County talent in War Eagles running back Nick Lyles, Harrison was East Hall’s leading receiver and rusher in terms of catches, carries and yards. He ripped off consecutive runs of 14, 22, 14 and 30 yards as the Vikings pulled away in the late second and early third quarters.
Harrison credited his offensive line (Isaiah Jenkins, J.D. Lee, Daniel Restrepo, Andrew Crawford and Gio Rebollar) for allowing him to showcase his talents.
“He’s a really big back who’s not afraid of contact,” Vikings senior quarterback Austin Parker said Harrison after last Friday’s win. “He wears people down as the game goes on, and you can really see him just being comfortable with what he does throughout the game.”
Harrison was also one of four receivers to haul in each of Parker’s touchdown passes.
At first glance, Harrison, a 6-foot-2, 230 pound junior, could easily be mistaken for an offensive guard. Yet once the ball is snapped, he exudes an athleticism complete with explosive bursts in between the tackles, not to mention is a spectacle of sure-handedness in the passing game.
Those are traits Gray certainly is happy to have within an offense that has put up 114 points in the first two games this season. In the Vikings’ 1-1 start, Harrison has already accrued more than 500 yards of offense, including 295 rushing yards and three scores on 29 carries, with another 209 yards and a score in the passing game.
His ability alone allows the Vikings’ spread attack to exploit defenses in a variety of ways.
“Defenses a lot of times will move personnel around to stop our passing game. And once a team does that, then it opens our running game,” Gray said. “When you have talented running backs, that opens up lanes for them, and really brings a whole other element to your offense. In Cambren’s case, he’s really big and fast. He’s one of the faster kids in the county. When you have that combination, they can’t sacrifice coverage to stop the run.
“Being he’s a power back with good hands, he gives us a lot of other options that we can do with him and the other kids on the field.”
Even big guys need a little flexibility too.
Harrison said he partakes in yoga once a week, a key component in the tall-statured ball carrier’s knack for maintaining a low center of gravity and his quick bursts during runs.
“Coach (Russ Armistead) helped me with my speed a lot because I’m a big guy,” Harrison added. “We do it every week now, once a week before the game. ... It hurts, but eventually it helps you.”
Above all else, character trumps ability in Gray’s eyes. Harrison certainly has that.
“He’s fun to be around, and he’s starting to learn to work hard to be successful,” Gray added. “With back-to-back excellent games, he’s really starting to turn a corner that he’s gonna really impress some people this year.”
East Hall has an open date before going to Johnson High on Sept. 8.