Harris just wants the Tigers to win

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 12, 2002

Red Level running back/linebacker Antonio "A.J." Harris has been the topic of conversation for football fans throughout the state this week after rushing for five touchdowns and 387 yards during last Friday night's win against New Brockton. He also had eight tackles in the game.

His stats earned him player of the week honors for the State of Alabama by The Birmingham News. He was also selected to the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Prep Spotlight.

Harris seems embarrassed by all the recognition. He said elementary school students, teachers, friends, neighbors and even complete strangers have been congratulating him since last Friday night's performance on the gridiron.

"People just came from everywhere and said, "Congratulations A.J.,'" Harris said. "Even people I didn't know were shaking my hand."

Harris, however, has been busy thanking everyone else.

"I felt good when everybody told me I broke a record," Harris said. "I went around thanking everybody. The offensive line, the whole team and the coaches."

Individual honors are nice, but Harris has just two goals for his senior year at Red Level.

His only individual goal is to graduate and go to college. Hopefully, on a football scholarship.

His only goal for the football season is not an individual goal.

"My goal is to go 15-0," Harris said.

When asked if going 15-0 meant he would not get to rush the ball for the Tigers he did not hesitate when he replied, "It really doesn't matter to me as long as we win."

Harris' attitude and understanding of the team concept is one reason he is a team captain along with Larry Hudson and Cody Warren.

His attitude can be seen on the field of play, too.

"He's a great kid," Red Level Head Coach Tim Grimes said. "He never misses practice. He's played for me since ninth grade. He epitomizes high school football. He's all about, 'What can I do to help the team?'"

Harris splits time with Larry Hudson at running back. He also does the place kicking and punting for the Tigers.

He does everything but play in the band during the halftime and sell concessions.

However, Grimes said Harris would sell peanuts in the stands if that is what the team needed from him.

"He would do it if we needed him to," Grimes said. "He could do it when we are on offense because he is not leaving the field when we are on defense."

While Harris has received a lot of recognition for his offensive production, Grimes sees him playing college football on the other side of the ball.

"I said before the season that he may be the best linebacker nobody knows about," Grimes said. "He'll play linebacker in college."