On September 6th 2013, all eyes were on a high school football rivalry at Traz Powell Stadium.
It was a battle of two of the top ranked teams in the nation, with Miami Central taking on Booker T. Washington in what many outsiders believed could determine the national champion.
Both teams were filled with stars on offense and defense, but much of the focus laid upon the running game.
Dalvin Cook, Mark Walton, and Joseph Yearby led the way for their respective teams, and each running back reminded people why they were elite on that exhilarating night.
Fast forward 3 years to this weekend, and all three backs find themselves in yet another rivalry game with even more on the line. The teammates have changed since then, with Yearby and Walton now leading the charge in Miami while Dalvin Cook assumes most of the carries at FSU. Not only have the jerseys changed; however, but so has the outside perception.
Throughout the offseason FSU junior Dalvin Cook garnered all of the national attention, and has been touted as a first round pick by many draft experts. College football analysts put him on watch for the heisman trophy before the year began, and Cook was a trending pick to win the award.
After one month of the season; however, the tide has turned and Miami running back Mark Walton now has more touchdowns than Cook, and only has 190 less yards on 44 less carries.
Despite the narrow gap in stats and FSU’s 2 loss start, Walton realizes what challenge is ahead of him on Saturday.
“We can’t never say FSU is down,” Walton said after practice this week. “We’re gonna get their best shot, you know, we gonna get all they got… We can’t never say they down, it’s gonna be a tough game.”
Walton realizes he has a tough task ahead of him, but statistically, FSU has a worse run defense than in years past. The Seminoles currently rank 98th in the nation in rushing defense, and although a large part of that is due to their tough schedule, schools with in defensive turmoil such as Notre Dame and Texas rank higher.
The tandem of Walton and Yearby have combined for over 700 yards thus far, and should provide problems against FSU’s defense. They both will look to show people Cook isn’t the only elite back in Florida, while putting Miami back on the map at the same time.
“It’s what everybody wants to see -- Florida State, Miami,” Walton said. “Even though we ranked #10 and they ranked #23 it don’t matter, none of that matters without this W. We could be number one in the nation, if we lose this game, it don’t matter.”