All the way up to Football Friday Night, the 5News Sports crew is going to be breaking down our top local players to watch at every position. This week, it's the running backs, presented in alphabetical order:
Preston Crawford, Bentonville
Ran for 480 yards and 7 touchdowns as a sophomore, with much of that coming in big moments, as he had to step into the starting role in the playoffs and helped lead the Tigers to the 7A title game. Look for a big year if those numbers get stretched out across a full season as the starter.
Easton Francis, Poteau
Averaged six and a half yards per carry and 127 yards per game to go along with 23 touchdowns last year as just a sophomore. Will look to be the focal point of the Poteau offense as a junior.
Chance Jones, Elkins
Jones plays both sides of the ball with ease, but really stands out as a play-maker on the offensive side. he averaged nearly 8 yards per carry last year, good for 1242 total yards and 21 touchdowns. Now a senior, he will look to be a steadying influence at an Elkins program going through a lot of changes.
Tyrese Smallwood, Bentonville West
On a team known for their prolific passing game, Smallwood still managed to stand out against the mighty 7A West last year, racking up 784 yards and 10 touchdowns. As teams spread out even more to try and slow down the aerial assault of the Wolverines, look for Smallwood to do even more damage on the ground.
Garrett Vaughn, Springdale
Vaughn missed a large chunk of last season with a broken hand, but still managed 644 yards and 12 touchdowns in the 7A West. Now healthy and ready to play a full season, Vaughn looks to be a big part of the offense as the Bulldogs break in a new quarterback.
Ty Graser, Rogers Heritage
Carson Ray, Booneville
Jarrett Russ, Shiloh Christian
Austin Taylor, Mountainburg
Daniel Woolsey, Ozark