Harrison breaks Central Texas single-season rushing record with 2,875 yards

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By Keith Sparks

The Liberty Hill community knows how good running back Kyle Harrison has been for the Panthers, but his most recent accomplishment is something even the most devout Panther fans didn’t see coming.

With 114 yards in the State Championship game against La Vega, Harrison broke the Austin area record for rushing yards in a single season with a total of 2,875. The record was previously held by Brock Fitzhenry from Giddings, set in 2006 with 2,865 rushing yards.

Following Harrison and Fitzhenry on the list are Buddy Kellar (Smithville, 1952), JK Dobbins (La Grange, 2015), Harrison again, (Liberty Hill, 2017), Travis Brannan twice (Vandegrift, 2015 and 2014), Johnny Dorn (Granger, 1982), Layton Dworaczyk (Blanco, 2009), and Alex Julian (McCallum, 2017).

Most of those athletes went on to receive Division I scholarships, most notably JK Dobbins, who currently plays running back for Ohio State, but Harrison still doesn’t have one. He isn’t bitter about it, though, instead focusing on ow rare it is to be in the company of those incredible athletes.

“It’s an honor,” Harrison said. “It shows that I’ve put just as much work in as them. It’s really cool to be above great, amazing players like them. It’s cool to say.”

Harrison was consistently great all season, but the Panthers’ loss to Hutto was the game that jump-started his stellar season. He finished the game with an astonishing 323 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

“That might have been my first really good game,” Harrison said. “I think I had, like, 300 yards and five touchdowns, and that showed me that I was just as good as I was last year, that it wasn’t a fluke.”

Once district play started, the Panthers found a rhythm that allowed Harrison to consistently rush for 200-plus yards and a handful of touchdowns just about every Friday night. At that point, Harrison knew he had an opportunity to do something special his senior season.

“Through district, we were rolling,” Harrison said. “We were stacking up yards. District was a lot of run, and I knew I could get a lot of yards just like I did my junior year.”

Although he knew he was stacking up yards, Harrison wasn’t aware of the Central Texas single-season rushing record until a few days before the State Championship.

“I didn’t even realize it until the week we played La Vega, I think,” Harrison said. “That’s when I first got told, I’m pretty sure. My dad told me I needed about 100 yards to break it, and I said I’ll do my best, but it’s La Vega’s defense, then I barely got it.”

Facing one of the toughest defenses in the state, Harrison went on to rush for a tough 114 yards against La Vega in one of the most physical matchups of the season. He chalked it up to running “with an attitude.”

“I think it’s just how I run with an attitude,” Harrison said. “I think it’s just how hard I run. I’m not going to let somebody take me down very easily. That’s how you have to run as a running back, just run with an attitude.”

In addition to his talent and attitude, a big part of reaching such a record is simply staying healthy, which Harrison was able to do. He was the only running back on the Panthers’ roster that didn’t miss a game, and he played nearly every snap of every drive throughout the entire season. Harrison said staying healthy starts with the weights during the offseason.

“It all starts in the weight room, I think,” Harrison said. “I was in the weight room probably every day from the time we lost to La Vega my junior year until the beginning of this season. I had to get my body ready for the games, because I knew I was going to get the ball. I knew I couldn’t let my team down by getting hurt.”

Of course, Harrison had to credit his offensive line, per usual, for consistently giving him holes to run through.

“I’ve got a great line, like I always say, I love them,” Harrison said. “They helped me through my last two years to get all these records.”

Despite breaking the Central Texas single-season rushing record, Harrison still doesn’t have a major Division I scholarship. He was recently accepted into Texas State, where he tentatively plans on walking on to the football team for the Bobcats.

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