PORT ARTHUR — SHENANDOAH – In a season where he’s totaled 71 tackles, 30 of those for a loss, one thing hasn’t happened much for Nederland senior defensive end Koby Couron. He hasn’t seen many players escape his grasp.
But, that’s exactly what happened on Pflugerville Connally’s first offensive play, as senior running back LaDaedrix Payton blasted past Couron, carrying him for a six yard run. It was the first salvo in a series of running battles between the powerful Payton and the equally powerful Nederland defensive front during Nederland’s 17-10 second-round playoff victory.
“I know we’re a good tackling football team, but it didn’t look it tonight,” Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said after the game. “More of that had to do with him. He’s got powerful thighs and you just couldn’t get him. You couldn’t get a grip on him. Give him credit. He’s better live than I thought. I knew he was good on video, but live, he looked better, knowing who he was going up against and breaking tackles.”
Payton had 924 rushing yards during the regular season, averaging 6.65 yards per carry. Against Nederland, though, Payton was asked to double up and play quarterback in a Wildcat offense after starting QB Dajon Williams suffered a concussion against Montgomery.
Before the game, Neumann said his scouts heard people refer to Payton as “Little Ricky,” as in former University of Texas and NFL running back Ricky Wiliams. It’s easy to see why the two were compared, as Payton had a hard-charging running style with strong thighs that made him very hard to bring down.
“He slips tackles a lot,” Nederland defensive tackle Brock Pryor said. “He’s pretty tough. If you can’t get wrapped around him, he’s probably going to break the tackle and need a second tackle to get him down.”