Prep of the Week: Mitchell Smith
(ABC 6 News) — It’s not often you see a player at such a young age have such an impact on his team offensively and defensively.
Such is the case for West Hancock junior Mitchell Smith, he’s the nucleus of what the Eagles do so well. On offense, the Eagles are a ground-based attack; they run the ball well and despite Smith being listed as a quarterback, he moves like a running back barreling over defenders.
Smith has racked up more than a thousand yards on the ground, averaging about 7 yards a carry. One of the highlights of the season came in the Class A semifinals against Lynnville-Sully. After the Eagles scored a go-ahead touchdown late against the Hawks, they elected to go for two. Smith — who helped drive the team down for the score — took it upon himself to get the conversion by making a spectacular leap over a defender.
“We’re in the huddle, first time, we’re like, ‘Alright, we got to do this.'” Smith remembered. “‘All out, we got to score, it’s huge.’ And then every play, everyone’s getting their blocks, we’re getting those five-yard chunk plays, some bigger plays and we’re just killing them.”
Smith wasn’t done impacting the game, on defense he made the play of the day, intercepting a pass in the red zone to secure the Eagles’ 22-14 victory.
“I was tired, I was tired as heck,” Smith recounted. “Listen, I don’t care how tired I am, I got to give it my all every play. Can’t let them score, can’t give them a chance and that’s what we did.”
In the Class A title game against Grundy Center, Smith had a handful of big plays but West Hancock wound up losing 27-0. Despite being a reigning champion and reaching the state finals every year he’s been on the team, the loss struck a note with Mitchell and it’s something he says has lit a fire in him.
“I played but… you got to influence everyone to go as hard as they — everyone’s got to work hard,” Smith mused. “Hopefully, that should fire them up enough. In the weight room, you got to keep them good, you want to have your team, you want to hold them up, make sure everyone’s better or getting better.”
What makes Smith’s journey so much more interesting is the fact he’s doing it with family, his cousin, Kellen Smith, plays running back and his twin brother, David, plays on the offensive line.
“That’s awesome you know, start out just playing in our backyard,” Smith continued. “Playing football, beating each other up pretty much, just getting angry at each other. And then you start in the little grades and I used to play some tackle. It’s awesome, I didn’t get to play with my little one but he’d always play at our house, I’d play at theirs. It’s nice, you always want to play with family, it’s fun.”
“These young men, talented as they are, they’re fun to coach,” Eagles head coach Mark Sanger added. “The talented players make coaches look like geniuses, I’ll put it that way. They do an excellent job, work hard, want to win and can’t say enough about what they do. Luckily, the best thing about them is they’re underclassmen still, so we’ll get them back next year.”