The Rams senior keeps the offense steady.
Like twin water wheels, Tray Hall’s legs never stop churning.
And, like twin water wheels, they create more power than most think possible.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior running back is new to Riverview High in 2019, but not to local football. He transferred from Cardinal Mooney High, where in 2018 he impressed with his elusiveness and determination. At Riverview, though, there was an adjustment period.
"It was basically the same playbook we ran at Mooney," Hall said. "I just had to get used to the way [the coaches] wanted me to run. I had some bad habits I had to break. At Mooney, with zone running plays, we would slide [into position] before hitting the hole. Here, everything is straightforward and downhill. I had trouble getting that into my head. It took some time, but I've got it now."
This season, Hall has been the key to unlocking the rest of the offense. Having him as a steady backfield presence allows versatile junior Michael Hayes to play in the slot or as a runner, depending on the formation, and prevents defenses from jumping on the Rams’ short passing game: Keeping the box stacked means less coverage on Hayes and sophomores Duke Timmons and Omari Hayes (Michael’s brother) on screen passes from senior quarterback Sean White.
He is filling the role previously occupied by Ali Boyce, and filling it well. In the team’s rivalry game win against Venice High on Sept. 20, Hall took a handoff and jetted outside the left tackle’s shoulder, through two Indians defenders’ arm tackles. He stumbled — but thanks to his still-turning legs, Hall regained his balance and took the carry for a 52-yard touchdown. He finished with 180 yards on 25 carries.
He runs like Boyce, too — with the heart of a lion and the anger of a bull.
"I'm a physical runner. I don't like being brought down by one man, ever,” Hall said. “I don't like that. And I can catch out of the backfield or in the slot. I can do whatever [the team needs]."
That mentality comes from different places, including his father, Christopher Hall, who also played running back at Riverview. It’s how he ran, Tray Hall said, so it is in his blood. It also comes from how his football career started: On defense. Hall used to be a ferocious hitter, he said, and that trait never left once he switched to offense.
“He hits the hole hard,” Riverview coach Josh Smithers said. “He’s low. He’s square. And what happens is, a [defender] will be a little out of position or a little tired, and Tray is so strong and such a good burst that he can explode through people. Next thing you know, he squirts out for a long run.”
The Rams (5-2) are hoping Hall has another big game in him Oct. 18. Riverview plays Newsome High (7-1) on the road in what is a de facto district championship game. Assistant coach Gerland Perry said the team hopes to jump on Newsome, primarily a running team, early, forcing them to throw the ball to conserve the clock and getting them uncomfortable.