NORTHEAST NEWS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Ford was the little engine that could for Generals in 2013

MacArthur High School head football coach Andy Garza congratulates Derrick Ford on being named the 2013 Northeast News' Offensive Player of the Year.

Derrick Ford wasn’t the biggest guy on the field for the MacArthur Generals during the 2013 season, but he sure played big in leading his team to a 5-5 season that saw the Generals come within one game of landing a playoff spot.

Ford, a senior, rushed for a team high 1,239 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He also added eight receptions for another 42 yards. His performance during the 2013 season earned him the Northeast News’ Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Ford’s coach, Andy Garza, said the 5-7, 180-pounder did an excellent job not only on the field, but also in the locker room. The Generals lost starting quarterback Doug Steed for the season when he suffered a knee injury the week before the season began. Garza knew he needed someone to step up on offense and become the vocal leader of the unit, and he found his man in Ford.

“We asked him to take over the leadership role on offense when Doug went down and he did,” Garza said. “He’s not a big talker, but he fit into the leadership role and the other kids relied on him. He did a great job of letting the other guys on offense know that they needed to step up as well.”

Ford was a three-year varsity letterman and a two-year starter. As a junior, he rushed for 299 yards and two touchdowns, but stepped up his game as a senior as he became one of the leading rushers in District 18-5A.

“Derrick is sort of an elusive power runner,” Garza said. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s very strong for his size and he has good speed. When given the chance, he could break one.”

Ford broke a couple of long runs during the season, the first was a 68-yard touchdown run against Galveston Ball that carried the Generals to victory, and the other came against Nimitz, where he again went 68 yards for a touchdown.

“On the first play of the Ball game, Derrick goes 68 yards for a touchdown against an eight-man front. That solidified in our (the coaching staff’s) minds that we had something special at running back and that district teams were going to have to watch out for him.”

Ford only began playing football his freshman year. He said he’s always loved watching football, and decided to give it a try himself when he arrived at MacArthur Ninth Grade School four years ago.

“I love the game,” he said. “I love to watch Peyton Manning and Marshon Lynch play. I’m glad I decided to play it myself. I had a good time playing these last four years.”

Garza is hoping Ford gets the chance to continue playing. He’s received some interest from Navarro College, Trinity Valley College and Midwestern State University.

“Being our featured back opened a lot of eyes as to what he can do when given the opportunity,” Garza said. “He’s a great leader and a passionate football player. He’s a very savvy young man who did a good job of motivating the other guys around him.”

Ford said he’d like to major in math in college and is thinking about entering the teaching profession in the future.

Garza said he believes if given the chance, Ford could compete at the next level and be a positive influence at the collegiate level.

“His personality is like that of the Hulk,” Garza said. “He’s a very respectful young man and his teachers and classmates love him. When he is in his football element, his passion shines through and that is when he is at his best. Some of the things he did on the football field were very special.”

Here’s hoping Derrick Ford gets to do some “special” things at the next level.