FOOTBALL: Ridgeland’s Roberts earns Walker County defensive award

January 2, 2019

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, as the old saying goes; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

And few players in northwest Georgia epitomize that saying more than Ridgeland’s Terrance Roberts.

Listed at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, Roberts is far from the biggest guy on the field every Friday night. But as opposing teams have come to discover, there’s more to Roberts than meets the eye.

With blazing speed and a nose for finding the football, Roberts hits like a runaway freight train and more than a few opposing ball carriers found out the hard way in 2018.

Today, the Panthers’ junior strong safety is being honored as the Walker County Defensive Player of the Year.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “A real good feeling.”

His 87 total tackles (50 solo) were the most on the Ridgeland defense this past season and he led the team with 13 tackles for loss, including a team-high seven sacks. He also had one fumble recovery and scored a defensive touchdown.

Roberts said he was a little surprised at the type of year that he had.

“I have to give credit to the other 10 (guys) on the field,” he said. “They put me in position to do what I can do on defense. We just practice hard, go out there and do what we do. We don’t have size on a lot of people, but we have speed on a lot of people and we have heart. We’ve got heart like no one else and that’s a key factor.”

“If Terrance was 6-foot-2, he’d be known as one of the best defensive players in the state,” Ridgeland head coach Cortney Braswell said. “He has so many intangibles that as a coach you just don’t have to teach. He just does things instinctually. He’s a tremendous leader and he’s a great competitor, but he’s even a better person to have on your team. He just makes everyone elevate their level, as players, as competitors and as people. I’m certainly glad he plays for us.”

Included in those seven sacks were four against Flowery Branch in the opening round of the state playoffs. Roberts also assisted on a fifth sack and helped the Panthers force seven turnovers in a 34-14 win that saw them hold the high-powered Falcons to just 216 yards and their second-lowest point total of the season.

“That night was all about the preparation we had that entire week in practice,” Roberts recalled. “Coach kept preaching to us that the tight end was going to keep blocking down all night. The quarterback was a big dude, but I knew I had speed on him coming off the edge.”

Two of those sacks came in the final minute of the first half on back-to-back on third and fourth downs with Flowery Branch inside the Ridgeland 20-yard line. The two takedowns preserved what was then a 10-0 lead.

“Last year we had three senior D-linemen, some senior linebackers and Butter (Kennesaw State signee Markeith Montgomery) in the secondary,” he explained. “So I knew I was going to have to step up my game this year and focus even harder than I did last season.”

A terror on defense, Roberts was also trouble for opposing defenses with the ball in his hands. He had 21 carries for 332 yards (a 15.81-yard average) and six touchdowns, while he also added 11 receptions for 332 yards (a whopping 30.18-yard average) and four more scores.

“His year was unbelievable,” Braswell added. “When we needed a sack or turnover, he was always around the ball. People see the sacks and the touchdowns and everything else, but people don’t necessarily see the plays where he runs a guy down on the opposite side of the field for an eight-yard gain that might have gone the distance.

“He’s just the epitome of relentless. He knows one speed and that’s all out. Even in practice, we have to remind him sometimes that it’s just a walk-through. He’s ready to hit anything that moves and you’re certainly glad to have a kid like that around your program.”

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