High School Football Teams are Chasing Rabbit
Posted September 9, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
ROCKINGHAM — His name is Michael Waddell, but he also answers to Rabbit.
"My grandmother gave me that name when I was about four or five," Waddell said. "She said that I used to run around a lot, and nobody could catch me."
Not much has changed since then. Now at Richmond County high school, Waddell regularly out runs his pursuers.
"He's a weapon isn't he," Richmond County coach Daryl Barnes said. "I'm glad I don't have to defend him."
Rabbit picks off passes and hops away for touchdowns. Dangle the carrot of an open field in front of him, and he will pounce on the opportunity. His true specialty could be special teams. He had seven touchdowns last year, and another so far this fall.
"When the ball is in his hands, it can go the distance on any play," Barnes said.
He scored four touchdowns against three-time eastern champion Douglas Byrd. He scored two more against powerful-Seventy First. He scored in all three phases of the game, and the expectation is that Waddell's talent will carry him well beyond high school.
Waddell prefers defense and special teams. Rabbit has been timed at 4.19 in the forty. Barns has never coached a player that fast.
"I don't believe that anybody in the state of North Carolina has coached anyone that fast," Barnes said. "Michael is blessed, there's no doubt about it."
Richmond County has long been a favorite stop for bird hunters, but visitors to the area should not expect a lot of success chasing rabbit. One guy thinks he can catch the rabbit, his cousin Marcus Ellerbe.
"He was always a little bit faster than me when we were smaller, but now I'm trying to get to about the same speed as him," Ellerbe said.
If Michael Waddell is the rabbit, call Marcus Ellerbe the hare. These cousins are quicker than any this state has ever seen.