With a 2-6 record , it has been a tough year for Swansea.
But it would be a lot tougher without tailback Jae'Quan Sutton.
Sutton has rushed for 1,103yards and seven touchdowns, giving the Tigers a breakaway threat in the return game, and providing spot play on defense at linebacker.
"Jae'Quan is a workhorse," Swansea coach Van Lewis said. "He has kind of put the team on his back and tried to provide motivation and leadership through actions and words. He's a very tough runner. We do a lot of stuff inside the tackles with him.
"He's also our deep man on the return. When he runs a return, it's going to be out near the 50-yard line just about every time, and he's taken one to the house this year also. He's the total package. While we haven't had a ton of success, we feel like we're a better team than we where last year and a large part is due to him."
Sutton, a three-year starter for the Tigers, played more on defense as a sophomore before inheriting the starting tailback job last season. He rushed for 900 yards as the feature back, but was determined to get better.
"I think I've stepped it up and I'm a better back than I was last year," Sutton said. "I had a lot to work on over the summer and I got myself better as I continued to do that.
"I felt like I needed to do a better job recognizing defenses, and having better field vision. But more just working out in the weight room, trying to build more speed, more power."
The results are evident.
Lewis says while Sutton is elusive, he is most effective as a power runner.
"He's a 'behind his pads' runner," Lewis said. "He's got the ability to slide a little bit one way or another, just enough to make a person miss. He's a strong kid. He squats about 500 (pounds), power cleans about 280. He can make you miss, but he's more likely to lower his shoulder and run over you. He can do basically all the things you need him to do. It has been fun to watch him grow and get stronger and develop into the guy who everybody kind of looks to."
Sutton did not play football until the eighth grade. It was a quick adjustment.
"I played some baseball growing up, but when I started football, I just loved it," Sutton said. "At first I wasn't even playing tailback, I was playing middle linebacker. One day they just put me back there on the scout team and when they saw what I could do, they left me there."
Sutton's improved play has started to draw the notice of colleges. Lewis is confident his star will get a shot somewhere.
"I don't have any doubts about him being good enough," Lewis said. "It depends on the level. He's been getting some attention from some Division II schools and realistically, that's probably his best fit."
And that's fine with Sutton.
"I can see myself playing college ball," he said. "I'm ready for every challenge that comes in front of me. I've just got to keep working hard and hope I get the chance to take it to the next level. I've got a love for football. It's like my heart."