OCH Regional Medical Center Athlete of the Week: Rodrigues Clark

Rodrigues Clark

Staff Writer

It was a big first half for Rodrigues Clark in last season’s Little Egg Bowl against Oxford as he had rushed for 13 carries, 69 yards and a touchdown leading the team to a 14-0 halftime lead.

Clark wouldn’t return in the second half, however. The junior running back had suffered a minor knee injury that put him out of the game and leave the Yellow Jackets searching for answers. They ended up being outscored 14-0 themselves in the second half and had to fight their way out of the game for a 28-21 victory in double overtime.

So Clark got his two quarters back on Friday night in the game at Oxford. Now fully healthy, Clark put on even more of a show in the 56-7 win and played just one half because the game was already out of hand. With 10 carries, 108 yards and three touchdowns, he wrapped up OCH Athlete of the Week honors in less than 30 minutes.

“I don’t think he was trying to prove anything," SHS head coach Chris Jones said of his running back's performance. "He was just being himself. It just so happened to be one of those games where he broke out and he was finished by halftime. He made some plays on his own and hopefully that will help his confidence moving forward.”

Clark admits that he felt there was a little bit of unfinished business from a year ago, but he was mostly trying to get through the game so he could be ready for a team that he didn’t get to contribute against last year.

One of the biggest rivalries in Mississippi is up next for the Jackets and they were held out of the end zone by the West Point Green Wave in the 28-3 defeat last season. Clark’s injury was a large part of the lack of production so he wanted to be healthy when those two teams meet again.

“Knowing I would be able to play against West Point was the big goal,” Clark stated. “I went out there and did what I had to do to show them I was still Dreke Clark from last year.”

The Memphis commitment has run with a purpose in the early going this year. He’s tired of being doubted by other teams and even college coaches who have wondered just how healthy he is after multiple leg injuries.

Clark has looked just fine in the first two games against Noxubee County and Oxford, putting up 217 yards and four scores and averaging 8.3 yards per rush. It’s brought Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State’s attention as all three schools have their antennas up.

“I want to prove that I’m the best running back in the state of Mississippi and I want to get the gold ball,” Clark said. “It felt good (to win the Little Egg Bowl), but it wasn’t too serious. I’m glad we got it back, but we’ve got bigger things ahead.”

Those bigger things ahead could also apply to Clark, who is working his way up the list of all-time running back greats at SHS. Jones has spoken highly of Clark’s ability to put negativity behind him and turn it into a positive.
What’s been seen early in the year could be just the beginning of a great year for the talented ball carrier. It’s not personal to the other teams. It’s just who Clark is.

“He’s always trying to get better and he’s never satisfied,” Jones said. “He does a great job week in and week out. He’s going to run hard regardless of who we’re playing.”