By Tony Tsoukalas / Sports Writer
The Meridian Star
You won't hear much out of Russell Christian Academy running back John Epps III. The senior would much rather let his play speak for itself.
In the midst of the first undefeated season in Russell Christian's history, Epps quietly racked up 884 yards on 48 carries, an average of 18.42 a carry, to go along with 13 touchdowns on the ground. Epps also recorded nine receptions for 214 yards and three touchdowns in the air and was third on the team in tackles with 62.
Those numbers not only speak volumes about the success Epps has had this season, they have also earned him the opportunity to play in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools All Star game on Friday at Mississippi College.
“John is just a great character kid,” Russell Christian head coach Nate Ballard said. “You can tell him to run through a brick wall, and he'd do it. He works extremely hard, not only on the field, but in the classroom too. He is just a class act.”
Along with his athletic talent, Epps was a leader for the Warriors, as the team claimed its first state championship in school history. While not a vocal leader, Epps served as an example to his teammates, leading them through hard work on and off the field.
“He would just look at the boys, and his action, the boys would just take not of that,” Ballard said. “They would follow his lead, whether it was in the weight room or sprinting, he always worked hard. If we went down in a game, he would turn to the players and say 'come on guys, we got this.' He just has that persona about him.”
However, Epps is shy to take too much of the praise, crediting his success to the help and support he has received from his teammates and coaches.
“I never thought I'd get to do something like this,” Epps said. “It's just very special, and it's something I will remember for the rest of my life. We worked hard this summer to get ready for this season, and it really showed. I definitely couldn't have done it without my team, they are a great group of guys.”
Epps traveled to Clinton on Tuesday and will spend the next two days participating in practices to get ready for Friday's game. The Warrior running back is one of 41 players selected to represent the North team and is the first player in school history to participate in the game.
While Epps is eager to represent his school on such a big stage, Friday's game will carry sentimental value for the senior, as it marks the last time he will suit up at the high school level.
Epps has been contacted by some schools about playing at the next level and plans on continuing his football career into college.
“I plan on trying to either walk on or try to play football at the University of West Alabama,” Epps said. “One school called me, and that's Crown College in Minnesota, and that's another one I'm considering.”