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story.lead_photo.caption Prairie vs Shiloh Christian - Jaret Russ (11) runs the ball for a touchdown as Kaine Caswell (3) of Prairie Grove misses the tackle at Champions Stadium, Springdale, AR on Friday, October5, 2018. Russ leads the Saints in rushing and has helped Shiloh Christian to a 5-1 start to the season. Special to NWA Democrat-Gazette/ David Beach

SPRINGDALE -- Shiloh Christian senior running back Jaret Russ is all business.

He also knows that sometimes less is more, if that makes sense.

At a glance

JARET RUSS

SCHOOL Shiloh Christian

HEIGHT 5-9

WEIGHT 180

CLASS Senior

POSITION Running back

NOTABLE Leads the Saints in rushing with 230 yards on 45 carries (5.1 yards per carry and has scored four touchdowns. … Has 10 catches for 132 yards and three scores. … Rushed for 681 yards last season and 11 touchdowns, and 434 yards and eight scores as a sophomore. Also had 35 catches for 607 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. … Plans to attend the University of Arkansas and major in business next fall.

In a summer practice, Shiloh Christian Coach Jeff Conaway casually asked his running back if he was the type of player who wanted to get the ball every play, expecting Russ to confirm that to be the case.

"He said no," Conaway said. "He said, 'I don't want it every play. When the defense knows I'm gonna get it, why not give it to somebody else?' "

Now that is savvy.

Russ has been an important part of the Saints' 5-1 start to this season, proving to be a mismatch problem for defenses on the ground and through the air. He has rushed for 230 yards and 4 touchdowns on 45 carries. More important for Shiloh Christian, it is 3-0 in the 1-4A Conference after the Saints blasted Prairie Grove 57-14 last Friday, ending a three-season losing streak to the Tigers. The Saints travel to Gentry tonight.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound back has found quite a home in Shiloh Christian's multiple-set offense. With big-play receivers like senior Blake Thomson and junior Truitt Tollett forcing defenses to focus their coverage on them, Russ is often put in positions where he can outrun team's middle-of-the-pack defenders.

"There are times when we can really create a mismatch with someone who we don't believe can cover him or can tackle him," said Conaway. "When he has space, and when he has some openings, he really makes it difficult for our opponents to tackle him."

One of Russ' biggest games this season came in a 28-21 victory over Oklahoma powerhouse Beggs on Sept. 14. Russ was called on in crunch time to keep the clock moving by running the ball and picking up first downs. He finished with 87 yards on 20 carries, and at one point ran the ball eight consecutive times when the offense moved into its four-minute system.

"He's proven that he can be the workhorse, and in that game, he proved that he can get the ball late and continue the drives," Conaway said. "He basically just said, 'I'm gonna make sure we get first downs and win my team this football game.'"

The breakout game was a turning point in Russ' final season.

After that summer conversation, Conaway told Russ that he wanted him to be the kind of carry-first running back that can overpower defenses. The Beggs game was proof that Russ can be that back when he's called on.

"After about the third or fourth [run], I knew it was all me," Russ said. "I just gave it my all and tried to secure the win for us."

Once Russ' Shiloh Christian football career concludes, he plans to attend the University of Arkansas and pursue a business degree.

Before he leaves, he has conference title aspirations he hopes to complete.

"We haven't won conference in a while, which is kind of embarrassing," Russ said. "I want to be the team that turns it around for us and gets us back on track to how we're supposed to be."

Sports on 10/12/2018

Print Headline: Shiloh Christian's Russ a problem for defenses

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