Photo by Derrick Mahone
Mundy’s Mill junior Josh Hill is being counted on to fill the void left by the injury to leading rusher Rodney Smith.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Mundy’s Mill junior Josh Hill is being counted on to fill the void left by the injury to leading rusher Rodney Smith.

JONESBORO — If Mundy’s Mill is to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season, the Tigers will have to do so without their top offensive threat.

Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior confirmed Thursday morning that standout running back Rodney Smith is out of Saturday’s Region 4-AAAAA play-in game against Northgate. Smith, who has rushed for 1,575 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, was injured in the first quarter of last week’s 35-20 win over Ola. Manior said Smith was hit while out of bounds on his seventh carry of the game.

The junior had seven carries for 196 yards and two touchdowns before his injury. He is expected to learn the extent of the injury this morning.

“I’m definitely disappointed,” Smith said. “I’m hopeful that the team can win without me. I believe in them.”

Junior Josh Hill will be in the lineup when the Tigers — the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A — host Northgate on Saturday at Twelve Oaks Stadium. The winner advances to next week’s state playoffs.

“This is new for Josh,” said Mundy’s Mill offensive coordinator Patrick Smith, Rodney’s father. “He has to step up and show what he has. We are praying and hoping that Rodney doesn’t have a real serious injury.”

Manior said early indication is that it could be a tendon tear, which would require some surgery. Smith, a standout second baseman on the baseball team, could be back in time for the baseball season.

Last season, he was named all region after batting .429 with 18 RBIs and scoring 22 runs. He also had 16 stolen bases.

Smith was having a breakout season in football this year after rushing for about 600 yards last year.

“Josh will get his chance to shine,” Manior said. “We expect him to run hard. We have to coach him up this week, and see what he can do. We are not going to chance anything. We are going to do what we do. We just have to tighten up and everybody will have to play tougher.”

Hill has been the Tigers second-leading rusher this season with 221 yards on 37 carries for a 5.97 yard per carry average. He also has two touchdowns. In filling in for Smith last week, he had 13 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown.

“Losing Rodney hurts a lot,” Mundy’s Mill quarterback Rodricous Gates said. “He meant a lot to our team because he was the star of the offense. I have a lot of confidence in Josh. I believe in this offense.”