Senior back Tyshawn Embs   has rushed for 2,025 yards and 27 TDs this season — both Panthers school records. (Courier file photo)
Senior back Tyshawn Embs has rushed for 2,025 yards and 27 TDs this season — both Panthers school records. (Courier file photo)
Mike Weedman has seen his share of talented running backs come through Carroll County in recent years. But none of them have approached the eye-opening numbers Tyshawn Embs has put up this season.

The athletic senior back enters tonight's playoff opener at Lloyd Memorial with 2,205 yards and 27 touchdowns, both single-season school records. He also owns the single-game rushing mark with 420 yards.

Not too bad for a kid who didn't play football as a freshman and wasn't even the full-time starter until this year.

"No one was expecting this," said Weedman, who has served as head coach at Carroll County for the past six seasons and was offensive coordinator before that. "What a special season. He's so humble, he's not a me-first kind of guy. For him to lead not only Class 2A but the entire state speaks volumes about him and his teammates."

Embs had long been considered one of the more talented players on the Carroll roster but he struggled with consistency in his first two years. He rushed for 302 yards as a sophomore and then picked up 614 last year as a junior while serving as the change-of-pace back to star Carson Butcher who went over 1,200 yards both seasons.

Embs' biggest problem was his propensity to freelance behind the line of scrimmage. While his athleticism allowed him to break gains, often he was forced to flee from defenders after he'd run away from his blockers.

But age and experience, not to mention a skills camp during the summer, helped mold Embs into a more disciplined runner.

"We had skills camp and the running backs coach pretty much told me if we ran where we're supposed to run we would get more yards than if we freelanced," Embs said. "I did a lot of that last year. Not too much but enough to not get me what I wanted. But I have just tried to stay on my track as much as possible and read my blocks."

For Weedman, the change is noticeable and it shows in Embs' gaudy rushing totals.

"I think that's the biggest difference you see in Tyshawn from his junior season to this year is the discipline he has gained as a runner," the coach said. "With the work those guys have done on a daily basis, they know each other, they know their tendencies and they work well together."

By the time this season is through, Embs will have put together the most impressive rushing season the area has ever seen.

He is currently 12 yards behind West Jessamine's Devin Taylor for the state lead in total yards, but has done so in 124 fewer attempts. His 220.5 yards per game is second only to Taylor, but his 11.19 yards per carry is second only to Damien Harris of Madison Southern (12.35). His 27 rushing touchdowns are currently fifth in the state, but he also has a score on a punt return.

More impressive is where Embs stands in the annuals of state records. If his yard averages stand up through tonight, his per game average will be the ninth-best in state history and his per carry average will be the 25th-best. His 420-yard effort against Kentucky Country Day - a top 10 team in Class A - stands as the 16th-best single game effort in the history of the state.

Embs is also close to breaking into the top 25 in two other categories but will likely need his Carroll County team to win a few games in the playoffs to reach those goals. He is 436 yards away in rushing yards and eight back in touchdowns.

Embs said he never planned on having a season of this magnitude.

"I never thought about anything statistically," Embs said. "I just wanted to play my last year and give it my all."

While Embs acknowledges what he has accomplished, he is also quick to credit his offensive line for that success. It is something Weedman has seen as well.

"I've been very blessed to coach some very good running backs over the years but I do believe Tyshawn is the fastest I have ever coached," Weedman said. "But it's a team effort. I believe our o-line has a lot to do with it. I believe the other guys want Tyshawn to excel and they're out there pushing themselves with extra effort on every play. It is a big part of it."

As far as Embs and the Panthers are concerned, they still have work to do, like winning the program's first postseason game since 2003. But Embs admitted that he has looked ahead to a possible college career.

"I had the University of Louisville's running backs coach come and talk to coach Weedman and I'm either looking at there or Kentucky," Embs said. "I'd like to play somewhere close to home."