By Gary Lloyd
Clay-Chalkville senior running back Sidney Battle is very superstitious, and the writing was on the wall.
Despite rushing 143 times for 681 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games last season, it wasn’t enough for Battle, who missed the last three games of the regular season after a scary concussion injury in the win over Gadsden City.
“I didn’t have the season I really wanted,” Battle said.
Battle’s displeasure was over his jersey number. He wore No. 3 last season, the first time he strayed from No. 24 since he played in recreational leagues as a kid. He had chosen No. 24 because of former Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for 2,736 yards and 30 touchdowns in his two collegiate seasons. He switched to No. 3 for his junior season after watching former Alabama running back Trent Richardson mow down defenders.
“That kind of amazed me,” Battle said. “I was trying to hit the weight room like him and everything. I just learned last year you’ve got to do your own thing, be your own running back, so I went back home (to No. 24).”
Clay-Chalkville head football coach Jerry Hood said Battle, who has a Jacksonville State offer, is bigger, stronger and more powerful this year.
“He’s a little bit superstitious,” Hood said. “No. 3 was a bad luck number to him.”
Another superstition Battle has is watching film before every game, behind a locked door in the athletics office. Sometimes, he takes a nap. Last season before the team traveled to Huntsville for a game, he fell asleep and awoke after the team had already left. Someone gave him a ride to Huntsville, allowing him to play in the game.
Fellow running back junior Terrelle West switched his number, from No. 30 a year ago to No. 12 this year in honor of his father.
“He felt like he had to carry on the legacy of No. 24,” West said of Battle. “He had it the year we went undefeated and he also told me we have unfinished business.”
Clay-Chalkville, of course, forfeited nine of its 10 wins two seasons ago for playing an ineligible player. The 6-foot, 190-pound Battle said he hopes to add more scholarship offers to his resume on the team’s way to a successful season.
“They (college coaches) are waiting to see what I’m really about,” Battle said. “That’s why I went back to No. 24.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.