FOREST PARK, Ohio — Winton Woods senior running back Ty'Rek Spikes said it's not uncommon to watch opposing defenders ridicule his 5-foot-4 height on the field.
"All the time," Spikes said. "I don't respond back. I'm just like, 'All right, let's play. Let's see who gets the best of whoever.'"
Spikes is listed at 5 feet 7 and 165 pounds on the Winton Woods roster. In reality, he is 5-4 and 150 pounds.
What an opposing player may not realize is that Spikes, a Winton Woods team captain, is fueled by the criticism and often tries to score a touchdown on the next play.
"You got to stop me," Spikes said. "It makes me feel great (to score). It just shuts them up."
Spikes, 17, has given plenty of reasons to keep opposing teams quiet due to his significant production this postseason.
"He gives us a really good spark," Winton Woods senior outside linebacker Seven Blue said. "I love when the offense starts the game, because they bring out the energy in us. He is quick. He's really tough. He's got the speed. Once he gets into the open space there is no telling what he is going to do."
Winton Woods (11-3) wants the successful offensive and defensive trends to continue Friday night as it prepares to play Green (11-3) in a Division II state semifinal at Westerville Central.
Spikes has 103 carries for 892 yards (8.6 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns in four playoff games. He has 1,575 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns overall this season.
"I don't know if there is a tougher kid pound-for-pound anywhere to be found, to be honest with you," Winton Woods coach Chad Murphy said. "That's a figure of speech. I understand that. I've probably used it a time or two myself in years prior. But, man, I mean we are talking about a guy that's 165 pounds and five-foot whatever. Just on fire and just running hard."
Spikes likes to say he's simply running with the football and credits his offensive line for opening the lanes for him to have success. Senior offensive linemen Will Edwards, Andrew Thompson and first year-starter Damarion Stone (6-6, 320 pounds) have been very effective this season, Murphy said.
Spikes rushed for 230 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in a 38-17 win over Piqua in the regional final Nov. 19. Spikes doesn't back away from any opportunity to help his team.
"We're not talking about getting sweeps and running the ball outside," Murphy said. "We're talking about a guy who is pounding the rock in between the tackles – inside and outside. And just running like he's on a mission, which I think he is."
This week, Spikes is trying to help lead his team to its third state final appearance in program history.
Spikes said the Winton Woods football program has represented so much to his life. Spikes said his teammates would likely describe him as "lightning in a bottle" and that he likes to lead by example.
"Everybody is close," Spikes said. "We're always together. It's a real brotherhood, a real family."
Spikes, who also plays baseball for Winton Woods, has aspirations of playing college athletics and earning a degree in anesthesiology, a topic of interest he learned in middle school.
"He's just a phenomenal young man," Murphy said. "He practices as hard as anybody on our football team. And he's just getting it done."