CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Amid the struggle of a winless season and hardship of significant injuries to the Buffalo High School football team, junior Jordan Tucker presents as an example of success and a thorn to opposing defenses.
Injuries have plagued Buffalo this season and as the youthful squad learns its way toward greater success but Tucker, a standout tailback and kick returner, ranks among Class A's top 10 in rushing and scoring. He leads all Kanawha Valley rushers with 821 yards.
The Bison (0-5) have lost numerous players to different ailments, including top returner Laythen Good (ACL), senior back Gabe Garrison (knee, concussion) and quarterback Austin Hensley (shoulder). Despite the team setbacks, Tucker perseveres and carries an increasing load.
"He just works hard and does what you ask of him, always has," Bison Coach Mike Sawyer said. "He's one of the fastest kids I've ever coached. He's gotten in the weight room in the offseason and gotten stronger. He's kind of been a different type runner this year than he has been in the past. In the past, he just used his speed and now he uses his cutting ability and he's able to break through some tackles."
Tucker said his dedication to lifting has helped him develop the strength to take more carries and hits.
"Oh yes, it has, because when you have that many carries, I get hit pretty hard and weight lifting got me stronger to let me take the hits more easily," he said.
In Buffalo's 61-46 loss at Gilmer County on Friday, Tucker carried 30 times for 296 yards and finished with five touchdowns, including an 80-yard kickoff return for a score. Earlier in the season, against Poca, Tucker finished with 34 rushing attempts for 323 yards.
While the strength results from lifting, Tucker's speed comes from track. As a sophomore, Tucker placed sixth in the 100-meter dash at the state track championship.
Tucker's football success stands out even more impressively because it's apparent to opposing defenses he will be the featured back, and with an inexperienced offensive line, Tucker makes a lot of plays on his own.
"Everybody, they all watch film so they're all going to key on him," Sawyer said. "We have a lot of young kids on the line so they're not getting the blocking we would like to get for him.
"They're learning and getting better, but he gets a lot of it just on his quickness and speed and being able to out-quick people."