Banks, Red Devils take on Lions in battle of unbeatens

By By Rhett Manuel / American Press

It’s been a while since Pickering has had much to brag about.

The last time the school saw the playoffs in Class 2A was in 2006, when it lost as a No. 12 seed in the opening round.

Senior running back Daveon Banks and first-year head coach Johnny Cryer are giving the Pickering faithful something to talk

about, rolling to a 4-0 start heading into the meat of its schedule.

The Red Devils will learn about themselves tonight when they host Vinton in a battle of unbeatens.

Banks has been the workhorse for the Red Devils, accumulating 86 carries for 780 yards and 11 touchdowns — a 9.1 average per

carry. Those numbers have been good enough to make him the No. 6 rusher in the state.

“(Daveon) is not a real big back, (but) he’s very strong and works hard in the weight room,” Cryer said. “I had the feeling

when I came here that he would be our go-to guy, and we’ve worked extremely hard on trying to get him the football as many

ways as we can. He’s just a great athlete.”

Cryer, who had spent his previous 14

years heading Rosepine’s program, has brought an attitude change to the

Red Devils’ program.

They debuted in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association prep

polls this week as the No. 9-ranked team in Class 2A.

“It’s like he’s told us since he first

got here, it all starts with discipline,” Banks said of Cryer. “I feel

like we’ve gained

a lot of discipline and with discipline comes a lot of

responsibility. Everybody is willing to fight to keep that

responsibility

and keep that respect (and) keep going.”

However, the change has been helped by the 170-pound senior back. A player who, Cryer said, isn’t afraid to go the extra mile.

“He’s a big-time competitor,” he said. “He runs like a 205-pound running back and he’s only 170 pounds. He’s very durable

and strong.

“The yards after contact is tremendous

for him. He runs hard (and) he’s hard to bring down. He’s got 4.5-speed

in the 40 (-yard

dash) and he carries his pad level extremely well. … After

practice, he runs hills and does extra things that other kids don’t

do. He’s told us several times that he wants to be in the playoffs

his senior year. They’ve never been to the playoffs and

he wants to change that. He’s put the team on his back.”

Banks has his own colorful way of describing his running style.

“Whenever I grab the ball, it feels

like I’m on top of the world,” he said. “It feels like it’s supposed to

be in my hand.

It feels like if anybody tries to take it from me they’re going to

get demolished, ran over no matter what my size is. I’ve

got to lower my shoulder and get as many yards as I can and led my

team to a victory, taking it one week at a time.”

His success has been a vital part in revitalizing what had been a struggling program.

“It feels good to know that we are bringing the program back to where it’s supposed to be,” Banks said. “It really means a

lot to know that our names will hold up in school history.”

With it all on the line, Pickering is willing to bet on Banks leading it back to the postseason.