When asked on Monday morning if his team's sizzling 4-0 start in any way surprised him, Rusk head football coach Ted Patton had a bit of a perplexed answer.
“I thought before the season started that we had potential with the number of experienced kids that we had coming back,” he said. “The competition has gotten better and better each week and we have managed to win each game.
“But, we still have some big tests ahead and this team knows that. We are not where we want to be despite what our record is.”
Rusk opened the year with a lopsided win over Class 4-A Terrell and followed that up with a decisive victory over Crockett.
In the last-two weeks, the Red and Black have laid the lumber to Palestine Westwood and Athens — the Eagles squished the Hornets 42-14 in Athens last week for their latest win.
Much of Rusk's success can be attributed to the remarkable play of senior running back/defensive back Chaston Bennett.
Bennett, one of East Texas' top ground gainers, has carried 50 times for 868 yards and has scored nine touchdowns.
He has averaged an astounding 17.4 yards per carry, with his longest gainer covering 92 yards.
Rusk's achievements this fall are not solely due to Bennett's production, however.
“Chaston (Bennett) is special and when he breaks free there are not too many kids that can catch him,” Patton said. “But, the success that we have had is not just because of Chaston alone.
“Our quarterback, Kody Daniel, has played very well and has been able to make good decisions like when to pitch the ball, when to keep it and when to throw. He's our trigger man. Our fullback, Ray Foreman, has run the ball well as have Vijay Stingley, David Overstreet and D-Jay Glenn.”
Stanley has picked up 307 yards in 43 totes and has eight rushing touchdowns while Foreman is not too far behind, having 266 yards in 36 carries.
Stingley has averaged an impressive 8.2 yards per carry and has rolled up 164 yards in four games.
Glenn has 18 carries for 94 yards and is averaging just north of five yards per carry.
As a team, the Eagles have been running the Split-back veer attack to near perfection this season.
Rusk has 1,801 yards through four games and as a team, which means , on average, when any Eagle rushes the football the average gain is nearly nine yards.
Defensively, the Red and Black have given up just 39 total points this year.
Bennett is also the unit's leading tackler, having made 32 stops thus far.
Austin Ballew and Garrett Ault have pitched in with 21.5 and 19 stops each, respectively.
Winning is fun and winning makes football practice much more palatable, says Patton.
“Our practices have been a lot more peppy this year,” Patton said. “The bumps and bruises don't seem to hurt as much, and it's easier for the kids to do the more mundane things that are necessary to go over in practice each week.