Senior running back broke EH rushing records

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — Like a tattered T-shirt or a pair of old gym shorts, Spencer Gilbert’s philosophy on rushing was handed down to him by a respected elder.

Before he rushed for more yards than anyone in the history of Eastern Hancock High School and climbed the all-time state single-season scoring list, Gilbert was a running back in need of a blueprint for yards, yards and more yards.

Gilbert gained his philosophy from Brett Bragdon, who rushed for 1,639 yards in the Royals’ sectional-winning 2006 season to set the program’s single-season rushing mark.

“For the first three quarters, you bruise ‘em. You hit ‘em. For the last quarter — that’s when you outrun them.”

Bragdon’s words of wisdom unleashed a fully focused and fully determined Gilbert upon the Class A football scene in 2013.

There was no immovable object to counteract the unstoppable force of Gilbert, as the Daily Reporter’s 2013 Hancock County Offensive Player of the Year broke EH’s single-game (360 yards), single-season (2,916) and career (5,423) rushing records this fall. The Royals led the state in scoring, won their first 14 games and finished as the Class A State Runner-up.

The magic of Eastern Hancock’s 2013 season would not have been possible without Gilbert, the fulcrum in the Royals’ offensive juggernaut and the player who embodied the team’s fighting spirit. Over the years, Gilbert transformed himself from a player who was occasionally overly-emotional to one who maintained Zen-like concentration on the gridiron.

“I would say I’m more of a reserved, focused-type now. There’s always times in the game when you need to be at tempo, when you need to be upbeat with players and get them riled up if you’re down,” said Gilbert, whose 308 points this season were tied for sixth on the all-time state single-season scoring list. “I think a lot of my teammates really looked at me to see how my demeanor was during games.

“For me, I’m more of a ‘this is what we need to get done, so let’s get it done’ type of player.”

Gilbert’s progression as a runner coincided with his growth as a teammate — which in turn led to bigger numbers and a more important role on the team.

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