Whether it's on the football field or baseball diamond, Cody Carlyle seeks contact on every play.
The most amazing part of the way he throws his body around with reckless abandon is that he's a mere 5 foot 10 and 190 pounds.
"I guess I just like pain," Carlyle, a Scott City senior, said. "I don't know."
Carlyle earned a spot on the Scott-Mississippi Conference all-conference baseball team as a catcher and leads the Rams' rushing attack on the gridiron. He thrives on being in the middle of the action.
"There's a saying in our old locker room that says, 'Hit or be hit,'" he said. "It's kind of inspired me a little bit."
On the football field, Carlyle serves as the bruising back for the Rams (5-3 overall, 1-0 district). He chugs through the middle of the line, daring tacklers to try to bring him down. He's rushed for a team-high 628 yards this season.
"I like being physical," he said. "I'm not real fast so I do whatever my body will let me do. I like getting the ball. I just like contact."
He averages 5.23 yards per carry, mostly because he doesn't possess breakaway speed. He prefers pumping his legs and bouncing into the opposing defenders. Scott City coach Ronnie Jones said there's one certainty every time Carlyle touches the ball.
"The positive is we know that when we call his particular plays, he's going to give great effort and that's consistency," Jones said. "Now if they're not as productive as we'd like, there's probably a reason for that in that maybe they've assigned two guys to him."
Even his linemen appreciate his work ethic.
"He just lowers his head and runs people over," offensive lineman John Pinkston said. "It gets us going."
Jones said Carlyle separates himself from other players through his dedication in the weight room. Carlyle lifts once a day during his weight lifting class, which has helped him overpower tacklers.
"He works hard to prepare and he hasn't backed off the weight room any at all," Jones said.
Carlyle has been helped by the Rams' use of three running backs. While Carlyle gets the majority of carries, Chris Blankenship and Trey Schlosser also get touches. Carlyle provides the power running, Schlosser runs past defenders and Blankenship is a combination of the two.
"When we know Cody is getting the ball, we do the best we can to block inside because Cody's going to run it straight up the middle and he's going to run someone over," Pinkston said. "Chris is a little harder because he can either get it outside or run up the middle. We try to do the best we can for him. Trey, we just try to get to the outside and block for him. If he gets past them, he's gone."
The Rams' attack has been slowed over the last couple weeks because of an injury to Blankenship. He injured his ankle, but said he expects to be ready to run tonight against Crystal City.
"I just keep on pushing my legs, just keep on pushing," he said. "I know I need to because I'm not getting as many [carries]."
Carlyle said having Blankenship and Schlosser carry the ball some helps keep him fresh for later in the game.
"It helps a lot, even though I don't come off the field, every now and then to take a play or two off," Carlyle said.
Carlyle isn't a one-dimensional player. He also makes his presence felt on defense, where he leads the team in tackles. Again, he sees playing linebacker as a chance to drill the opposition.
"I like running the ball, but I like hitting people on defense," he said.
Carlyle even pulls his weight on special teams, where he serves as the punter and place-kicker. In fact his kicking duties have helped him rank among the top players in the area in points scored. With 10 touchdowns and 14 extra points, he's sixth in the area in scoring after finishing second last year.
He almost never got the chance to play football. He didn't start until the seventh grade because his mother wouldn't let him play, afraid he'd get hurt. Now she attends games, but Carlyle said she isn't always pleased to watch the way he plays.
"She gets scared every now and then," he said. "She has to close her eyes."