SPORTS FEATURE:

Sometimes Dogs are not always so friendly. Barkers don’t always bite and biters don’t always bark. So who do we fear the most? It’s usually the canines of the canine we want to avoid. Smyrna has a pair of Dogs that hope to be all teeth during the upcoming high school football season.

Blessed with two talented players in his backfield, Bulldog head coach Matt Williams hopes to have a sic’em type offense with quarterback Landon Miller and running back Arion Carter. Both have explosive abilities and the dean of Rutherford County high school football coaches is excited to turn his Dogs loose.

“Arion Carter has a chance to be one of the best running backs we have had since I have been here“, says Williams, who took over at Smyrna in 2008. “If he stays healthy he can have a big year. Landon Miller has really put in some great work in the weight room and has gotten better physically as well as mentally. His ability to make plays both passing and running makes our offense a lot tougher to defend.”

The good news about these two is they are just juniors. The better news is they are experienced and have been through the varsity wars. Both were integral pieces in Smyrna’s run to the region 6 class 6A regular season championship in 2020.

Arion Carter was the leading Bulldog rusher last season (591 yards) while appearing in 8 games. Averaging an explosive 7.2 yards a carry, Carter found pay dirt 8 times. Entering the 2021 season, this instinctive runner hopes to use his previous experience to be even better this go round.

“The coaches gave me a chance to play a lot last year and that experience has made me a lot better”, says Carter. “I feel like I know how to read the holes better now and I have gotten bigger and stronger. I hope to be more elusive and use all the things I have learned to be even better.”

Landon Miller comes into 2021 with even more experience. Having called signals under center in each of the past two seasons, his quarterbacking abilities have progressed. Last season, Miller was a dual threat as he threw for 1008 yards (87 completions 144 attempts) and 8 touchdowns while also rushing for 246 yards with 6 trips to the end zone. He also hopes to build off his time on the field.

“There is no doubt experience can make you better”, says Miller. “I think I am a lot better at reading defenses now and have a better understanding of our offense. Plus when I have a running back like Arion behind me it gives me those juices to try and raise my game even more.”

Experience will make both of these young men better, but it also means they will not be sneaking up on the opposition. Having made a mark with big plays and performances in 2020 they are now on the radar of all their opponents. This is another motivating factor for each as they strive to sink their teeth into the 2021 schedule.

“I know I will be getting our opponents best and that puts a chip on my shoulder”, says Carter. “I love the competition and want to use that to help me continue to get better and better.”

“I realize people know us and that is what motivates me to work even harder”, adds Miller. “We understand we have to continue to improve and the drive to be as good as we can be is there.”

Smyrna kicks off their 2021 regular season at rival Stewart’s Creek on August 20.