Offensive Player of the Year
by Aaron Garcia
Ironically, one of the best sights Charlotte Catholic football coach Jim Oddo can ask for is that of running back Elijah Hood being tackled after a modest 1- or 2-yard gain. Plays like that are the foundation of the game of football, especially with Catholic’s plodding Wing-T offensive attack.
But that’s not Hood’s game.
“If he gets stopped after just a yard or two, he isn’t happy,” said Oddo. “I watch him and he gets up nasty. He just does. You can see it on his face. He gets back in the huddle and starts playing with his chin strap, and I know he’s going to bring it harder next time.”
And he did. This season, Hood was south Charlotte’s – if not the state’s – breakout star at running back. Just a sophomore, Hood rushed for an incredible 1,941 yards from the fullback position on just 187 carries, giving him an average of 138.6 yards per game and 10.4 yards per carry. He also scored 35 times, which means he reached the end zone every 5.3 times he touched the ball.
Throw in the fact that he normally didn’t play past halftime in many of the Cougars’ blowout wins, and Hood is more than worthy of the mantle of Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2011 South Charlotte Offensive Player of the Year.
“I felt like I had a really good season,” said Hood. “I did what I really wanted to do: put myself on the map and let everybody know my name. Now I’ve got the respect I wanted. I really wanted to strive to be the best I could be, and I think I did that this year.”
At 6 foot 1, 210 pounds, Hood certainly had the size to be successful this season. But Oddo said that was only part of the equation.
“He’s strong, but he’s got a big heart,” Oddo said. “You’ve got to want to run through blocks, and he does that very well. He’s a hard-nosed, tough kid who plays hard.”
Hood has received a scholarship offer from East Carolina, while teams such as Notre Dame, Alabama, Clemson, Duke, N.C. State and Appalachian State have shown interest. There are plenty of reasons to intrigued, but Hood hopes his sophomore performance was just a preview.
“(Rushing for 1,941 yards) was big,” he said. “I want to see what I can do next year. I want to see if I can do better.”