Friday night was the annual Washington County Indoor Track Championships and I thought it would be a good evening to catch a few minutes with Isiaha Smith, the South Hagerstown High School senior who this year set a new single-season rushing record in the state of Maryland. Track meets can go on and on and on … but Isiaha (yes, that’s how it is spelled) was a busy fellow. He ran the preliminaries for the 55-meter dash, finished a close 2nd in the finals, ran a leg of the 4×200 (also second), and won the county championship in the shot put with a throw of 44-7.
And even then, at the end of the meet, I had to wait my turn as the local newspaper writer got to him first. I’ve always heard he is a nice kid to talk with, and sure enough he was glad to spend a few minutes reflecting on his incredible season and anticipating his collegiate future.
Smith’s season included the setting of a new all-time Maryland single-season rushing record of 2,916 yards. The previous record of 2,886 yards was set by a junior from Stephen Decatur High School (Ocean City) in 2004 – a fellow named Ben Tate … yes, the Ben Tate of Auburn University and the Houston Texans.
Isiaha Smith’s 2013 season also included the scoring of 42 touchdowns. He had 43 in his 10th and 11th grade years combined. Smith’s career total yardage of 5,650 yards ranks as the fifth-best total in Maryland prep school history. Tate’s 5,920 ranks second, while the state record was a four-year total of 7,062 by Tavon Austin of Dunbar (Baltimore city) from 2005-2008. And yes, this is the Tavon Austin of WVU and recently-completed rookie season with the St. Louis Rams.
But on this night of asking Isiaha what are his reflections now a couple of months after the end of the football season, his first answer was, “Beating North Hagerstown.” This is naturally a big local rivalry … maybe not quite the scope of the famous Easton/Phillipsburg annual Turkey Day showdown in the Lehigh Valley, but close enough for the local scene. Both teams were having a strong season – South was 9-1, while North was 6-3. Smith carried the ball 37 times for a total of 325 yards and 4 TDs in South’s 34-27 victory.
That rivalry game win vaulted South Hagerstown into the state playoffs for the first time since 2002… and this was the second reflection by Isiaha, “…going to the playoffs and just being with my teammates.” The Rebel’s season would end after the first playoff game – a loss to perennial state powerhouse Linganore 47-16. But in that loss, Smith was able to gain 193 yards and successfully set the new state record.
A final recognition for his season was that of being chosen to the Maryland Consensus All-State Team. He also finished second in voting to DeMatha wide receiver Cameron Phillips in the category of Offensive Player of the Year.
<< UPDATE — Smith will be attending The Citadel instead of JMU – the coaching change at JMU apparently advised the change away from from there.>>
Smith will be taking his football talents to James Madison University. He had many offers, with some of them talking about making him a defensive player. “With JMU it has been running back, running back, running back in what they talk about,” Smith said. “I like that, I’ve not played defense in a long time.”
The Dukes of JMU will open their 2014 campaign against the University of Maryland – playing in College Park on 8/30/14. They also have a home game against national runner-up Towson on October 11th. Isiaha Smith will be entering into the program along with new head coach Everett Withers – who comes from Ohio State and has 19 years of Division 1 coaching along with seven years in the NFL.
Undecided on a study major – listing the possibilities of communications, psychology, languages among others – his ultimate hope would be to go to the FBI. One thing for sure, there aren’t many criminals who could outrun Smith, and even though he is not a defensive player, getting tackled by this guy would really hurt!
(This is post #200 in the 9-week history of The Baltimore Wire. Please “like” us on Facebook and follow on Twitter @BaltimoreWireFS)