WALLACE – Kanye Roberts might already have a place in the fictional Wallace-Rose Hill Football Hall of Fame, but he might also be forging a school and Duplin County record for yards by a running back.

Roberts has run for nearly three miles of yards on Friday nights during the past four years. He has 5,250 yards for his career, a total which will most likely be more than 6,000 at the end of the season.

Earl Teachey, retired longtime sports writer for the former Wallace Enterprise, thinks Roberts has the all-time mark.

This newspaper is also leaning that way based on a number of factors.

“I go back to taking stats for coach (Thell) Overman,” said Teachey, also a former Bulldog coach who is living in Raleigh. “Still, I’m guessing, and I have not done the research, but I just don’t think anyone would approach 6,000 yards.

“I would say Jimmy (Jerome) had the record up until Jack (Holley) came in 1982. And while there were some great backs, like Kevin Alderman and O.J. Batts, I just don’t see them having numbers that high.”

Many things factor into the equation. For instance, freshmen were not allowed to play varsity until the last 15-20 years. At most varsity programs, having freshmen is still a rarity. At WRH it is even rarer given their history of talented running backs.

Mind boggling numbers

For a runner to reach 6,000, simple math suggests four 1,500 yard seasons. It’s also possible to get there with three 2,000-yard campaigns. Many have gone for around the 1,500 yard figure. A few have topped the 2K mark.

Some pretty dang good players at WRH do not approach the numbers Roberts will leave with after his final season.

He’s got 1,443 yards in seven games with regular-season games against Kinston, East Duplin and James Kenan still to go.

It’s hard not to see a healthy Roberts get 200-plus yards against Kinston and JK. That’s enough to put him over the 6K mark. And he’ll do some type of damage against ED, although perhaps not run them over like he is going to do versus Kinston and JK.

Geez, he ran for 212 yards and returned a kickoff against North Myrtle Beach, a 4A school in South Carolina that went to the state final last season.

So Roberts could hit 6K before the playoffs start.

What did he do last week?

Nothing but scamper for 247 yards and five scores in a 63-27 win over Rosewood on Thursday.

Kaymond Farrior added 137 yards and three scores and fullback Antwon Montgomery had 70 yards and a touchdown.

Carrying the torchRoberts, who also plays basketball and runs track, is ahead of many great WRH runners, some of which he played with.

But few will be close to his rushing total soon – if they are not already buried in the avalanche of the dynamic runner.

  • Johnny Glaspie ran for 3,526 yards, topping it off with 2,012 yards and 27 scores his senior season (2015). Glaspie is in his final season at 5-0 Fayetteville State.
  • Teammate Keyshawn Canady had 2,809 yards for his career.
  • Javonte Williams, who went on to play at UNC and is now a starter with the Denver Broncos, had 3,452 yards though not being a primary ballcarrier until his final year and a half.
  • Desmond Newkirk had 2,806, his final two seasons as a sidekick to Williams.
  • Cameren Dalyrmple checks in with 3,076 yards.

What is most impressive about Roberts is how he adapted to every season. When he was called on to be the No. 2 back, he did it with pride. When he was the No. 1 back, he showed everyone why.

Roberts ran for 1,382 yards his freshman season and followed it up with a 1,558 yards as a sophomore.

Last spring, he had 867 yards in the shortened season, playing only six games and missing the three others because of a high ankle sprain.

So famed running backs such as Ricky Brown, Johnny Johnson and Melvin Edwards are behind Roberts in terms of yardage.

Roberts, who shared Duplin’s Elite Mr. Football last season with East Duplin’s KD McClarin, has scored 26 TDs this season and could break the all-time record if the Bulldogs go deep into the playoffs. In recent vintage, Johnnie Glaspie scored 36 TDs in 2014. Two rounds seems almost a given for the No. 4 RPI team in the East by Max Preps standards.

Five to six more games could produce 10, perhaps as many as 20 more touchdowns.

And all these “predictions” seem more probable than possible.

Yet an injury could detour Roberts’ route. Every playoff game is an opportunity for him to leave past running backs, also in the legacy category, in the dust of Roberts in terms of yards and touchdowns.

The school’s longtime statistician Pete Blanton is checking into running backs during the two Jack Holley eras to see if any player had more yardage than Roberts.

It will be official soon.

Until then Roberts might be called the interim to the throne.

Again, this is not to say he is the all-time best running back ever.

But statistics – and records – do make objective markers in the history books.

Can anybody stop him?

Roberts is averaging 14.9 yards per carry and 206 rushing yards per game and has 95- and 82-yard kickoff returns. In five separate games he’s rushed for five scores. His least productive game was opening night when he “only” had 100 yards in a 62-16 pounding of East Bladen. His night was similar against Northside-Pinetown when he tallied 136 yards in a 49-7 win.

But four of his next five games were 200-plus efforts. In the one that wasn’t he ran for 184 yards.

And this season he’s averaged 3.7 touchdowns per game.

Roberts is a quiet leader on the field.

Yet his tackle-breaking and sprints past the defense have given him legendary status.

The 5--foot-11, 180-pound senior’s humility and love for the game are refreshing.

Bulldog Bites

WRH travels to face Kinston on Friday. James Kenan upset the Vikings there last Friday. And if WRH handles Kinston and East Duplin takes care of South Lenoir and JK does the same against North Lenoir on Friday, Duplin’s three teams will have gone unbeaten against the three Lenoir County teams in the ECC.

“They’re big and athletic and present some matchup problems with us,” said WRH coach Kevin Motsinger about Kinston. “Right now we’re going well, but it’s a struggle to keep it going. Plus, there’s the distractions of Senior Night and other things to get our kids off balance.

“But we’ve made a good track for ourselves heading into the last part of the season.”

WRH’s biggest game will be on Oct. 29 when the battle of current ECC unbeatens unfolds against East Duplin.

That matchup will have plenty of pre-game hype, yet with zero fanfare, it’s still a classic confrontation – close, low-scoring games in the past from two schools that run the Wing T.

“If we make it through this week, it will be the first season we’ve been healthy since I came here (2017) that we are completely healthy going into the East Duplin game,” Motsinger said.

Michael Jaenicke can be reached at mjaenicke@ncweeklies.com