Cortez Bandy saw a few carries a game at running back the past two years while Mitchell Burton carried the bulk of the load.
Now, with Burton having moved on to Miami (Ohio), it’s Bandy’s turn to carry that load. The senior ran the ball 23 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns in Friday’s season-opening, 41-0 win at Franklin.
“I was very pleased,” North coach Tim Bless said. “Probably the thing I was most pleased about was his durability. That was the untested. We know he has the ability to break plays. We know he knows our offense as a veteran senior, but what he hadn’t proven just because he hadn’t had the opportunity was durability.”
Burton had that durability last season, carrying 228 times for 1,697 yards and 22 scores. Bless said Bandy could have been a three-year starter had he not been behind arguably the best running back in school history.
Bless says the coaching staff has complete confidence in Bandy. And Bandy has confidence in himself.
“I was happy to finally show what I can do,” Bandy said. “I feel like we’re not really going to miss much after Mitchell because we have me. I’ve prepared four years for this because I came in as a freshman ready to be a running back.”
Last year, Bandy carried 48 times for 268 yards and five touchdowns. That’s an average of a little more than four carries a game.
Friday night, Bandy carried the ball nearly half as many times as he did all of last season.
“I felt good,” Bandy said. “We condition a lot, and I was prepared for anything. There’s a lot I can still work on and get better at to prepare for this Friday and upcoming weeks.”
A starting cornerback last season, Bandy is playing exclusively on offense this year. He played some at both running back and cornerback as a sophomore.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Bandy hopes to play running back in college and has an offer from NAIA Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Marian University also is looking at him.
Bandy has some lofty goals for this season. He wants to rush for 200 yards and three touchdowns a game, beginning with Friday’s contest at Class 5A No. 1 Columbus East.
“I’m prepared to rush for over 200 yards, to pass block and do everything I can to help our team,” Bandy said.
What: Columbus East vs. Columbus North football
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Columbus East High School