Chaffee's Estes is Southeast Missourian football player of the year

Sunday, February 5, 2012
Tyson Estes - Chaffee High School - All-Missourian Football (Kristin Eberts)

Patience on the football field seemed like a waste to Tyson Estes.

His coach preached it, but he wasn't buying it.

"He would tell me, ‘Be patient. Trust in your speed. The holes are going to come,'" Estes said about Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery. "But the truth is I'm not a patient guy. I want every play. This is your opportunity to make something happen. I'm thinking I have to get it right now. It's got to be this play, this carry. I can't wait two more carries because every play matters in a football game."

Estes' determination to run every play like it was his last helped him gain 7.1 yards per carry for the Red Devils. He also scored 19 rushing touchdowns. The senior's ability to get the most from his 5-foot-6, 165-pound frame combined with his tenacity make him the 2011 Southeast Missourian football player of the year.

"He was just good," Chaffee offensive lineman Chris Whitaker said. "I knew if I got a block, he was going to make it. He could score on any play. Every time he touched the ball, he was a threat to go all the way. You didn't have to do much work. As long as you made a hole, he was going to score."

Tyson Estes - Chaffee High School - All-Missourian Football (Kristin Eberts)

Estes believed he could score every time he touched the ball. That led to some entertaining runs where Estes would run toward one sideline before reversing direction and trying to outrun the defense to the other sideline.

"I really don't know what's going on in my head when I'm running with the football," he said. "I just try to shut off my brain and just react to what I see. So if I see an opening, you can't second-guess it. You've got to hit it as fast and as hard as you possibly can. If I felt like I wasn't going to get anything that way, I'm not the type of guy who's going to run out of bounds or something like that. I'm going to try to cut it back and try to make something out of nothing."

Watching Estes try to make something out of nothing wasn't always easy for Vickery.

"Sometimes you've got to tell him you can't make big plays all the time," Vickery said. "But in turn, you're sitting there thinking you want to pick up the 4 yards and then you see him reverse field and you think, ‘Oh no, we're going to lose 5 or 6 yards,' and he ends up going 35 or 40 yards down the field.

"I talked to him before every game. Be patient. Let it happen. Don't press and you don't have to have big plays every time you touch the ball. He was the type of kid that the more he carried it, the better he got, too."

Part of Estes' lack of patience stemmed from his belief that gaining yards was as much about git and toughness as the size of the hole. He didn't want to concede a 2-yard gain for the possibility of a bigger play.

"The hole's not always going to be there," he said. "Sometimes it is and sometimes it's not. When it's not, from there, it's what's inside of you to make the play happen. So I just tried to use the ability that God's given me."

Estes combined speed with an abundance of power. He admitted he's obsessed with weightlifting because he sees it as an equalizer. He knows he won't grow taller, so he's committed to getting stronger.

"I always had small-man complex," Estes said early in the football season. "I'm not that big. I always wanted to be bigger. I can't grow vertically, so I figured I'd grow out a little bit more."

Estes displayed his speed at the Class 1 state track meet last May when he helped the Red Devils win the 800 relay state title. He also was part of Chaffee's 400 relay, which finished fourth in the state.

"In a lot of years, we don't have a lot of speed back there, and he gives us the opportunity to break one at any time," Vickery said. "When you have someone back there with his kind of speed and can move like he can, then you've got a chance at any time."

Estes finsihed the season with 1,431 yards rushing. He added 88 yards on seven receptions. He topped 200 yards rushing twice and ran for at least 100 yards in six of the Red Devils' 10 games.

"He had good vision on the field and good elusiveness," Vickery said. "He's a very strong runner too. He's not that big, but he's very strong. He could pick up the tough yards, but he could also pick up the speed yards to the outside."

Estes also made an impact on defense, where he was a starting linebacker. It wasn't his desired position, but it's where Chaffee defense coordinator Jerry Dement thought Estes fit best.

"I would rather play a defensive back or safety, but coach Dement, our defensive coordinator, I guess he knew how aggressive I was," Estes said. "I do like contact. That's one of the most important part of the game to me, the contact. I like to lay a good lick on someone every now and then."

Estes finished with 46 tackles and three forced fumbles.

Estes said he wants to continue his playing career in college next year and has visited a few schools. He prefers to play running back, and his desire to return to the football field is obvious when he talks about the Red Devils' season, which came to a disappointing end. Chaffee lost three of its last four games, inclduing a turnover-filled district game at Cleveland NJROTC. He just wants a chance to earn another carry.

"I thought that if I could make something happen, I was going to do whatever I had to do to change the game," he said.

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