Photo by Derrick Mahone
Lovejoy running back Travis Custis (left) has been one of the offensive weapons that quarterback Alejandro Bennifield (right) has used this season for the sixth-ranked Wildcats. Custis has rushed for 29 touchdowns for Lovejoy, which hosts Warner Robins on Friday.
After watching Travis Custis have a breakout season last year at Lovejoy, the team’s offensive coordinator Craig Chatman believed good things were in store for the running back heading into this season.
The big key, according to Chatman, was keeping the talented junior healthy.
Despite playing six games on a hurt ankle last season, Custis rushed for 905 yards on 164 carries and 14 touchdowns.
“We saw what he could do, and were pretty amazed by it all,” Chatman said. “We knew he could have a good year, if he was healthy.”
During the offseason, Custis went to work in the weight room. The Wildcats patched up an offensive line that graduated four starters.
The result was an even bigger year for the 6-foot-1, 210- pounder, who Chatman calls a “beast” in the weight room. Heading into Friday’s Class AAAA semifinal against Warner Robins, Custis has 1,675 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns.
He scored twice in the sixth-ranked Wildcats’ win over Ware County last week, including a 62-yard run that sealed the win. He finished with 203 yards on 24 carries.
“He has done a tremendous job,” Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said. “What he did last season surprised a lot of people because Travis is just a real quiet kid.”
After starting running back Rashad Samuel sustained a leg injury early in the season, Custis became the workhorse in the Wildcats’ offense. Even after Samuel returned, Custis never relinquished the starting role.
Custis has shown his durability with an average of 20 carries per game. It seems he gets stronger as the game goes. Hughes and Chatman compare his work ethic to Lovejoy’s former all-state running back, Tashard Choice, who is now in the NFL.
“He has some of the same traits as Tashard had when he was here,” Chatman said. “Nobody is going to outwork him in the weight room.”
Custis and the Lovejoy offense will face a big test Friday against Warner Robins.
The Demons, who come into the contest at Twelve Oaks Stadium at 11-2, have a stingy defense. Warner Robins has allowed only 156 points, an average of 12 per game. Ninety-one of those points, however, came in three games, and Warner Robins has held seven opponents to single digits, including two shutouts.
“At times, our defense has played pretty well, but we’ve been a little inconsistent in some games,” Demons coach Bryan Way told the Macon Telegraph.
Now it is the Demons’ turn to try to stop Custis.