'Underrated' Shuler shining for Maryville minus the spotlight
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s hard to blame opponents for focusing on Shawn Prevo when they prepare to play Maryville.
It’s not hard to believe, either, those same opponents walk away thinking about Trenton Shuler.
Shuler is ‘that other running back’ for George Quarles’ two-back, run-first Rebels. And he has no problem filling that role week after week.
“That’s one of my goals, try to make it where they just don’t key on Prevo,” Shuler told The Daily Times Wednesday. “It’s hard to key on (one player) when you have two good running backs in the backfield. That’s what I try to do.”
The senior running back has done plenty of that through Maryville’s 6-0 start to the season, stealing the spotlight on Friday nights while opponents focus on the headlining junior partner, Prevo.
Shuler has ran for 524 yards and four touchdowns on 58 carries this season, averaging just over nine yard per touch.
For comparisons sake, Prevo has rushed for 575 yards and nine touchdowns on 74 attempts this year.
“I don’t know if it’s sneaking up on people,” Maryville coach George Quarles said of Shuler. “He’s underrated for sure, I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for just being a really good, solid football player.”
Shuler ran for a season-high 194 yards on 14 tries, accounting for a lot of back-breaking yards in the second half of Maryville’s season opening win over Cleveland.
“(He’s) pretty explosive. And he’s had several real big plays for us this year. His speed, he’s worked so hard to get faster and stronger this year.
“I think he’s on everybody’s radar now.”
carry the load
On the radar or off, Shuler took over a big part of the offense when Prevo went down with an injury at halftime of Maryville’s game at West.
“A lot of teams, if your running back goes down, you’re a pass-only team, you’re pretty one dimensional,” Quarles said. “And it wasn’t that way at all. If anything, we just kept giving it to Trenton. He got more carries and he just kept getting stronger as the game got along.”
Maryville got stronger as the game went on, too, pulling away in the second half thanks in part to the running of Shuler in a 47-33 win.
“I try to be a big part of this offense,” Shuler said.
A ‘big part’ may be a big understatement for what Shuler brings to the Maryville offense.
He touched the ball 14 times against West, running for 87 yards. He had 10 carries for 56 yards against Oak Ridge and 11 tries for 79 yards against Bearden Friday. His 41-yard run set up Maryville’s first touchdown late in the first half of the 21-3 win at Bearden.
“We needed a spark, and he made a great cut,” Quarles said. “I think last year it might’ve been a 20-yard run. This year it’s a 40-yard run.
“He’s gotten faster and more confident.”
just a knack
Sure, hard work has helped Shuler become both stronger and faster through his high school career.
But his knack for the big play is just some thing else that he’s added to the arsenal.
“I think he has kind of gained that,” Quarles said. “He had the big play against Oak Ridge, the long pass play. He had the game against West, the touchdown against Heritage, I think the first play, nobody touches him.”
Indeed, Shuler wasn’t touched on the play, running for a 73-yard tone-setting touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the 51-0 win over Heritage.
“I just think he’s one of those that, right now, is just playing with a lot of confidence,” Quarles said. “He has that knack of finding the big play.”
Regardless of the attention or the spotlight, Shuler has been playing with no lack of confidence this season. The stats reflect that.
“You have to be confident when you come up to the hole, that you can break one of these,” Shuler said. “You can’t just go tip-toeing and say, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna get four or five yards.’
“It just happens with confidence and experience.”
Two things Shuler has gained plenty of this season.