Running the ball continuously is Edinburg High’s bread and butter with junior rusher Shandon Woodard sustaining the Bobcats offense with his feet.

In the past three weeks, Edinburg notched some come-from-behind wins, earning the “Cardiac Cats” nickname. Woodard, a second-year letterman for fourth-year head coach J.J. Leija, figured prominently in those victories.

“We have a lot of new faces out there – Shandon being one of them – and we’re happy with his production,” Leija told Texas Scorecard.

Woodard, who stands 5-foot-7-inches and weighs 170 pounds, took his place in the backfield after a playing the linebacker position as a sophomore.

“We moved him to running back towards the end of the [2018] season, and he’s been there ever since,” Leija said.

For Woodard, being Edinburg’s primary ballcarrier is a return to a first love. He shifted from the position to linebacker in middle school.

“I used to love it when I was little, and I love it when I’m here too,” Woodard said. “I’m trying get back to what I used to do.”

One influence on Woodard is good friend and ex-teammate Hearlin Benavides, the school’s all-time rushing leader. Leija said that Woodard and Benavides, who ran for about 3,000 yards as a Bobcat and now plays college ball in Missouri, used to train together.

“I just watched how he runs the ball, how he could fit through a hole, make a hole,” Woodard said. “It shaped my running a little bit. I used to do it when I was younger. I just saw myself playing as him when I was younger. I just use that mentality in how I run today.”

Woodard added that Benavides advised him to stay humble and be himself.

“He just makes things happen and that’s what we’re looking for with this young man,” Leija said. “He’s been a great surprise for us. Not so much of a surprise, but with the totals he’s amassed in these games … we’re just happy with the production he has and hopefully he continues leading us in district play.”

Woodard, who ran for about 150 yards and two scores in the Bobcats’ thrilling 20-14 Week 3 win over La Joya Juarez-Lincoln, takes a current line of 600 rushing yards and six scores into the last game of non-district competition against Mercedes High.

Though the running back is a year removed from bringing down opposing ballcarriers, he still incorporates the instincts he showed on defense into his carries.

“If I’m being honest, I like running the ball better than I do hitting, but I love to hit,” Woodard, who looks up to Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley, said. “That also shows when I run the ball because I really won’t shy away from a tackle at all. I’ll try to run through somebody every now and then.”

Both he and his coach said that the home opener against Brownsville Rivera, which the Bobcats won 28-21, is a game that stands out in his young career at Edinburg.

“Shandon really come out … and ran for 222 yards and four touchdowns that one night,” Leija said.

The coach believes that Woodard “is someone teams are going to have to look after.”

According to Woodard, he “hasn’t been able to show much yet since it’s barely the start of the season,” but he hopes his efforts carry over into district play and beyond.

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