Apache RB wins national honor after 5-TD game

TJC's Chaston Bennett turns through the center of the line against the Trinity Valley defense on Aug. 30 at Bruce Field in Athens. (Herb Nygren Jr. | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

After spending the first two weeks of the football season on the road, Chaston Bennett, Tyler Junior College's standout running back, is happy the Apaches' are finally home this week.

"I love home games," said Bennett, the former Rusk High School standout. "We had good crowds the first two weeks out of town, but when the fans are at home they really get into the game. Home games are really special."

Bennett and the No. 13 Apaches (1-1) have their home opener against Arkansas Baptist College on Saturday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Kickoff on Earl Campbell Field is 7 p.m. It is Parents Weekend.

"We had a couple of wild games the first two weeks," Bennett said after Tuesday's practice on the TJC campus.

And Bennett, a sophomore running back, has been pretty special in both contests — a 59-45 loss to Trinity Valley on Aug. 30 in Athens, and a 72-65 win over Blinn in Brenham on Saturday.

His effort against Blinn (28 carries for 154 yards and five touchdowns) landed him the NJCAA National Offensive Player of the Week.

"I couldn't do anything without the O-line," said the 5-9, 165-pounder. "The offensive line has done a great job. We kind of feed off each other. When they open up the holes, I really get fired up and when I have a good run, it fires them up."

For two games, Bennett has scored nine touchdowns, ranking second in the nation (Cody Busby of Coffeyville, Kansas, has scored 13 TDs). He is also second in rushing yards average with 191.0 per game (Devin Taylor of Fort Scott, Kansas, leads with 216.5). Navarro's Keaun Kinner is third at 180.3.

Bennett, who rushed for 1,456 yards and scored 15 touchdowns his senior year at Rusk while also playing free safety, said it is a joy to play in the Apache offense. He has rushed for 382 yards on 58 carries — a 6.6 average per attempt.

"Our running game and passing game work well together," said Bennett, who is majoring in general studies. "When the running game is clicking, it opens it up for our passing game. If the passing game is clicking, it opens up the running game."

Bennett is quick to compliment all his teammates, coaches and his family.

"I was raised by three women — my mother Niki Bennett, my grandmother Carolyn Bennett and my aunt Angela Lopez," Bennett said. "They mean so much to me. They have taught me a lot."

Bennett, who scored three TDs as a junior when the Eagles defeated the Brownsboro Bears 69-54, said he received Division II offers but he was inclined to go to TJC so his family could watch him. Plus, he loves the TJC campus.

He added the game in Brenham was key because the Apaches did not want to start the year 0-2 in Southwest Junior College Football Conference play.

Now, it's a non-conference game for Bennett and the Apaches, followed by two home games against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (Sept. 20) and Cisco (Sept. 27).

Apache fans are hoping to see Bennett in the end zone as many times as possible.


Chaston Bennett File

Tyler Junior College running back

High School: Rusk

Favorite NFL Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Favorite NFL Player: LeSean McCoy

Favorite College Team: West Virginia Mountaineers

Favorite Food: Pizza, hamburger

Favorite TV Show: SportsCenter

Favorite Class: World History

Dream Car: Lamborghini

Dream Vacation: Hawaii















Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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