James Cook has the name and the family legacy at Miami Central.
Wearing the number 4 on his jersey Cook gave Rockets fans flashbacks of his older brother Dalvin, who is getting ready for his first NFL season with the Minnesota Vikings, on Thursday night at Traz Powell Stadium.
But Cook isn’t the only talented running back the Rockets have in their arsenal this season as they demonstrated during a 48-24 rout of Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna.
Five backs including Cook combined for 295 yards and six touchdowns.
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“If we run the ball like that, it’s going to be tough to beat us,” Central coach Roland Smith said. “Everybody knows James, but we have some tremendous young backs and I think people got a chance to see that tonight.”
The Rockets, who are ranked No. 17 by USA Today, failed to make the playoffs last season after advancing for 10 consecutive seasons. That run included five state championships and a streak of four consecutive titles that ended last season.
With opponents such as Booker T. Washington next week, Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, as well as district foes Northwestern, Carol City and Norland, Central (1-0) knows it needs depth and a balanced offense if it is to return to state championship status.
“Sometimes you have to have a wake up call and that’s what we had last year,” Smith said. “Our goal every year is to win a state and national title. We went back to the drawing board and we tried to put our team in the best situation possible.”
Freshman Amari Daniels (102 yards) and sophomore Kijon Owens each had two touchdowns while Cook, the top-rated recruit in Miami-Dade County, and junior Lexington Joseph (110 yards) each had one.
“We know the pedigree this kid [Daniels] has and he works real hard and has a lot of potential,” Smith said.
Cook, who recently backed off his commitment to Florida State where his brother starred for three seasons, is ranked the No. 3 running back in the nation by 247Sports.com and is still being recruited by several schools including Georgia, Louisville and Alabama.
On Thursday, Cook finished with a modest 39 yards on six carries only after his best run of the night in which he broke four tackles and gained nearly 40 yards was wiped out by a holding penalty.
Central’s defense was an area of concern toward the end of last season, and it showed particularly in a 45-44 overtime loss to Northwestern that ultimately led to the Rockets coming up short of the postseason.
On Thursday, Central’s defense held Auburn commit Shaun Shivers to minus-4 yards on 14 carries.
Although Chaminade quarterback Daelen Menard connected twice with Alabama commit Xavier Williams for touchdowns, the Rockets muffed a punt and kickoff that led to 10 points for the Lions. The Rockets sacked Menard four times and senior linebacker Robert Hicks, a Louisville commit, recovered a fumble.