BY BRANDON SPECK
SALTILLO – If you hit Diamante Pounds, just know he can now return the blow.
Pounds, Saltillo’s nearly 6-foot, 218-pound bruising back, will also play outside linebacker for the Tigers.
He played there nearly the whole playoff game last season at Callaway, the first time in his career. Tigers coach Pat Byrd says he was the best player on the field for 31⁄2 quarters.
“He gave out a little bit at the end, but he wasn’t conditioned to do it,” Byrd said.
He is now. After transferring from Shannon after his sophomore season, he rushed for a state-fourth 2,039 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’ll still play special teams again, plus get his 20-25 carries per game.
He likes it now, but Pounds was admittedly a little apprehensive about it. But Byrd says he is a natural linebacker and caught on quickly.
“It’s fun, just helping my team out some more. I watch a lot of football,” Pounds said. “I learned to see how they scheme and run full speed toward the ball.”
Scary thought about a guy Byrd said was strong when he arrived at Saltillo and has gotten stronger.
“You watch him in drills, he understands angles. It’s instinct,” Byrd said. “He knows what to do. It’s nothing I’ve done. He took to it pretty easily. He’s a football player. Football players just want to play where you put them.”
Byrd is hoping to getting a couple of quarters defensively, or maybe play him more situationally and Pounds is willing to do whatever. He has a personal goal of more yards this season, but says he’s happy to expend his energy on defense if that’s what will help Saltillo get to a third straight playoffs and maybe out of the first round for the first time as a Class 5A school.
Pounds says playing so much offense has eased the transition and if he delivers a hit on a running back that may also be playing defense against him, he’s fine with being a target. He’s used to it – and likes it.
“I like getting hit. I don’t mind getting hit a little,” he said.
BY BRANDON SPECK