PAXTON (WCIA) — Robert Boyd-Meents burst on to the high school football scene last year and led Paxton-Buckley-Loda in the backfield and to a playoff appearance. This year all eyes have been on the junior from opposing defenses and the 5-foot-11, 200-pound tailback is playing just as well.

“Robert’s clearly the leader of our team offensively and the kids know that and every team knows that that we’re playing, that he’s going to have to touch the football,” Paxton-Buckley-Loda head coach Josh Pritchard said.

Boyd-Meents ran for 1,420 yards with 23 total touchdowns as a sophomore. This season, he’s put up more than 1,100 rushing yards through eight games with 20 touchdowns on the ground. His workload has increased as a receiver, scoring five times through the air, to go along with 393 receiving yards.

“It’s been pretty good,” Boyd-Meents said about his junior campaign. “They’re (defenses) just trying to stop me so they can get a win, but it’s working perfectly fine. It actually feels pretty good they’re trying to stop me, we just got to get other guys the ball to make them a threat too.”

“You run the ball, it’s great, but if you can throw him the ball too, I mean, especially with his speed, you get him an open field and he’s just gone,” Paxton-Buckley-Loda junior quarterback Conner Vaughn said. “A lot of people can’t catch him.”

“Get the ball in his hands a little bit different ways besides just handing him the ball,” Pritchard said about their approach to using Boyd-Meents this season. “His hands have definitely come a long way. He runs crisp routes and luckily is a matchup problem when you put him in certain places against other athletes. When he can matchup on a linebacker or a smaller kid, he’s a thick kid that can break a tackle and when he breaks a tackle he can obviously take it to the house.”

The Panthers (5-3) will look to used Boyd-Meents in a big way to secure their playoff hopes in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week against St. Joseph-Ogden. PBL needs one more win to lock up a spot in the postseason, currently they’re eligible to make the 256-team field.