Before South Iredell High’s homecoming game against West Iredell, running back Chris Holmes made the Vikings’ offensive linemen a promise.
“Before the game, I told the line if they do good for me, I’d buy them pizza,” he said. “I guess that got them clicking.”
Holmes had to shell out for a lot of Little Caesars after his record-setting 372-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Warriors on Oct. 4.
The senior not only set a Vikings individual record for single-game rushing yards, but he shattered the 15-year-old Iredell County record of 358 yards, set by North Iredell’s Tyrek White in 1999.
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“I didn’t think about it. Honestly, I was just running hard,” Holmes said. “After halftime, the coaches told me how many yards I had. But after they told me, I kept it in my mind that I had zero yards, just so I would stay hungry.”
Holmes scored on runs of 35, 47, 7 and 71 yards as South also set a team rushing record with 445 yards.
“He also had several 15-, 20-plus yard runs the whole game,” Vikings coach Scott Miller said. “That’s a lot of yards. You never know, but he definitely has that kind of athletic ability. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to achieve something like that. It showed in that game.”
Holmes has had the athleticism, it just took him a while to adjust.
He spent his freshman and sophomore years at North Iredell, where he played under two different head coaches, Chris Davidson in 2011 and Sandy Grinton in 2012, learning new playbooks each year.
When Holmes transferred to South Iredell as a junior in 2013, that meant another coach to adjust to, another playbook to learn.
“He was trying to learn a whole new offensive system and a whole new defensive system,” Miller said. “But he’s a smart kid. He asks questions when he doesn’t understand something, like all good players do. And when he messes up, he listens and corrects it.”
Said Holmes, who also plays defensive back for South: “It was kind of hard getting the concepts of the offense down, but I got used to it. When I came to summer workouts after I first got (to South), I didn’t really get it. Then we started going over it in practice, and I got it.”
As a junior, Holmes was the Vikings’ No. 2 running back behind Michael Fisher, who is now playing college ball at Presbyterian. He ran for 511 yards and six touchdowns, but most of that – 412 yards and five TDs – came in South’s final four games.
“We had Mikey Fisher, and it was Chris’s first year here,” Miller said. “But towards the end of the year, he was one of our featured backs.
“Anytime you got a kid who’s getting Division I offers on your roster, you’ve got to make him a focal point.”
With Fisher and nearly two dozen other seniors graduating, it fell on Holmes to step into the No. 1 role this season, a challenge he relished.
“I knew my time would come,” Holmes said. “I knew what to expect from last year.”
While Holmes had already been drawing attention from colleges – he has offers from Charleston Southern and N.C. Central – that has ramped up ever since his record-setting game.
“After that game, the following Monday or Tuesday I probably had six or seven different colleges call me,” Miller said. “A lot of people know about his athletic ability. Some people are recruiting him as a running back, some want him to play in the slot, some want him as a (defensive back). But there’s probably a lot of schools that will be coming on board soon.”
That’s music to Holmes’ ears.
“I’ll play anywhere, honestly,” he said. “I play more on offense, but if I had a choice, I’ll play anywhere I’m needed.”