By LARRY BOWEN
Second string doesn't mean second class.
Ask the defensive players who attempt to tackle A&M Consolidated fullback Cedric Goodman Jr., a key reserve who could play an even more important role this week as the Tigers try to reach the third round of the state football playoffs.
Goodman is a reserve in a backfield overflowing with talent. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior ranks fourth on the team with 532 yards rushing and nine touchdowns despite starting only two games when 1,000-yard rusher Clinton Banks was injured.
The powerful Goodman has spent both of his years on the varsity as the backup to Banks, a starter since he was a sophomore.
"My approach is that good things come to those who wait," Goodman said. "I waited for my time, and whenever the team needs me, I need to be ready to go out and play hard and tough."
Goodman took over a fullback last week after Banks re-injured his ankle in the first half and missed the rest of the Tigers' 28-13 bi-district victory over Tyler Lee in the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Banks expects to play Friday when Consol (10-1) meets McKinney Boyd (9-2) in an area-round game, but Goodman will be ready if called upon.
Banks hurt his ankle during the fifth week of the season and was limited to a couple of carries the next two games while Goodman took more of the load in victories over Bryan and Killeen Shoemaker. Goodman gave the Tigers 73 rugged yards against Bryan, then exploded for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries against Killeen Shoemaker.
"We've been real fortunate that when Clinton's gone down, had an equipment failure or needed a rest, Cedric has gone in and done a good job," offensive coordinator Stoney Pryor said. "I don't always even know which back is in there because I'm not worried about that. It doesn't change my play-calling. That's not a factor in what we do. I have complete confidence in Cedric, in all of our backs."
Goodman's confidence took a major hit when Consol lost 38-34 to Klein Oak in the season opener. The Tigers were driving for a possible go-ahead score late in the game when Goodman sustained a hard hit and fumbled the ball for a turnover that killed the comeback.
It was a painful mistake for a player not sure how many opportunities he would get as a senior.
"Coach Pryor pulled me to the side and told me to keep my head up, that I was going to be a big part of this team and they're going to need me," Goodman said. "At that point I was so down on myself that I really didn't believe it. When the Bryan game came, I reflected back on that. If it wasn't for coach Pryor, I wouldn't be where I am now."
Pryor is quick to point out that there were several other drives Consol's offense failed to finish against Klein Oak and several opportunities for the Tiger defense to make a game-winning stop. That doesn't reduce the significance of holding on to the football for the Consol running backs, who end every drill by chanting B-S-E, which stands for ball security and execution.
"I think everybody in the stadium thought we were about to drive down and score [before Goodman's turnover]," Pryor said. "We fumbled the ball and that's unfortunate. I think it would have been very easy for Cedric to not respond well to that. He could have decided not to bounce back, and he probably wouldn't have played much this year."
The Consol-Boyd winner will advance to the regional quarterfinal round to face Klein Oak (8-2) or Round Rock Stony Point (11-0), so Goodman could get another shot at Klein Oak. He may love the idea, but don't expect Goodman to look ahead to next week, especially with Banks' status uncertain against Boyd.
"I don't prepare differently, but in situations like this where I know I might get more playing time, I get more focused on Thursday and Friday," Goodman said. "I'll be that way this week, no doubt."
CEDRIC GOODMAN UP CLOSE
* Class: senior
* Position: fullback