DADE CITY - In Pasco's first 11 games, senior Jamaal Sampson had a total of five carries for 18 yards.
In the Pirates 50-0 Class 3A-Region 2 semifinal win against Gulf on Friday, Sampson had 35 yards in his first two carries. Sampson finished with 71 yards on 10 carries and had added another dimension to the potent Pasco offense.
For most of the last two seasons, Jamall Haynes has been the workhorse in the Pirates offense. Haynes had rushed for 1,265 yards entering the Gulf game, scoring 12 touchdowns.
Sampson has spent the better part of two seasons on defense after breaking his hand early last season. But Pasco coach Tom McHugh knew he had another weapon when he needed it.
"Jamaal is a down-hill, hard-nosed runner that runs to the sideline. If we want to sweep the ball, we give it to him. He takes what the defense gives him. He's a banger. He's a really fast kid."
Sampson was ready for the task when McHugh asked him to perform.
"We were talking about [getting Sampson touches] all week," Sampson said. "I just did my job. When he told me to finish it, I finished it. We got the job done."
His first carry was good for 7 yards to end the first quarter and when quarterback D.J. Clower went right back to him on the first play of the second quarter, Sampson ran 28 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
"We have two kids that can run the ball equally well," McHugh said. "When I got here, it was Jamall Haynes and Jamaal Sampson - 1 and 2. [Sampson] broke his hand last year and ended up on defense. We've been practicing with him in the backfield. It wasn't something we just thought of this week."
With Sampson and Haynes in the backfield and Clower finding his favorite receiver Chaise Dunn (4 catches, 73 yards, 3 TDs), the Pirates will keep Citra North Marion busy at practice this week.