Dalvin Cook and Joe Yearby will be remembered as one of the best running back tandems in Miami-Dade County history.
Unfortunately for the Central football team, their final act together on a high school field came Saturday night at Traz Powell Stadium.
Yearby, a University of Miami commitment, sustained a fractured fibula above his left ankle late in the first quarter of Central’s 54-3 victory Saturday night against Palm Bay Heritage in the Region 4-6A final at Traz Powell Stadium.
Central coach Roland Smith confirmed the prognosis to The Miami Herald by phone after the game and said it would take Yearby five weeks to recover from the injury.
“The doctors said they have to wait until the swelling goes down and they put him in a cast,” Smith said. “He’ll be OK to start preparing for college and all of that, but with only two weeks left in [the high school season], we won’t be able to get him back in time.”
Cook, a University of Florida commitment who has shared the Central backfield with Yearby the past three seasons, carried the load Saturday for the Rockets (11-1), who advanced to their fifth consecutive state semifinal. Central will host Daytona Beach Mainland on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Traz Powell.
Cook, who was visibly somber after the game, finished with 244 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns.
“That’s my brother and that’s who I’ve played in the backfield together with for three years and we’re probably not going to finish the season together,” Cook said. “It hurts me a lot that I won’t be able to finish my career with him back there with me.”
Yearby was hit on his ankle during a run on Central’s second offensive series and had to be helped off the field by two of his coaches. He tried walking on the sideline, but did so very gingerly before being carted away to the locker room.
Yearby did not return, and was taken to a nearby hospital for further tests.
“That’s why you have depth so when guys like Joe go down,” Smith said. “He and Dalvin are a 1-2 punch and it’s hard to replace a special kid like him who’s done so much for Central football.”
Yearby finished his senior season with 1,700 yards on 177 carries and 19 touchdowns. For his career, Yearby had 5,593 yards and 68 touchdowns and was the first sophomore in Dade history to run for more than 2,000 yards.
In addition to relying on Cook, the Rockets would likely turn to senior Malik Adams, who finished with 50 yards on four carries, to complement their backfield.
“I just have to push our young guys in practice,” Cook said. “Joe takes a load off all of us but we have to carry that load for him.”
Two plays after Yearby suffered the injury, Cook broke a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:58 left in the first quarter that began Central’s onslaught.
Cook would later break touchdown runs of 72 and 55 yards as Central opened a 48-0 lead forcing a running clock late in the third quarter.
Senior quarterback Keith Reed had one of his best games of the season throwing four touchdown passes and finishing with 194 yards passing on 5 of 8 attempts. Tavius Brown, Jr. (108 receiving yards) and Da’Vante Phillips (86 receiving yards) each caught two of Reed’s touchdown passes.
The Rockets’ defense stifled previously unbeaten Heritage (12-1), allowing only 152 total yards (14 yards passing).
“This is going to be motivation for us,” Cook said. “We can’t just sit here and be sad for him. We have to go over there and pick our brother up. We have to go out there and win this for him.”
MIAMI CENTRAL 54,
PALM BAY HERITAGE 3
CEN-Cook 15 run (run failed)
CEN-Brown Jr. 20 pass from Reed (Piraquive kick)
CEN-Cook 72 run (Piraquive kick)
CEN-Phillips 30 pass from Reed (Piraquive kick)
CEN-Cook 55 run (Piraquive kick)
CEN-Brown Jr. 75 pass from Reed (Piraquive kick)
CEN-Phillips 56 pass from Reed (Piraquive kick)
CEN-Joyner 10 pass from Thomas (no attempt)
Rushing (att-yds) -- PBH: Figueroa 1-(-1), Moxam 7-(-1), Harden 4-9, Witherspoon 9-45, Gaines 10-86. MC: Brownlee 1-14, Yearby 5-40, Adams 4-50, Cook 13-244.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- PBH: Moxam 2-7-0, 14. MC: Thomas 1-1-0, 10, Reed 5-8-0, 194.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- PBH: Witherspoon 1-4, Laverdure 1-10. MC: Joyner 1-1, Phillips 2-86, Brown, Jr. 3-108.