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5NEWS Athlete of the Week - Amari Tucker

In his return from a torn ACL, Tucker ran for 229 yards and four touchdowns to help Southside win the Battle of Rogers Ave

FORT SMITH, Ark. — For the first time in seven years the Southside Mavericks won the Battle of Rogers Ave. The Mavericks took down rival Northside, 42-35 on Friday thanks to a big day from senior Amari Tucker.

Southside ran for 401 yards in the win, 229 of those coming from Tucker. The Mavericks senior running back also added four touchdowns but just getting on the field Friday was a win for Tucker.

“What he did over the past calendar year to get himself back ready and what it meant for him to play in this game as a senior and then to put together the performance he did, it’s just a great story," said Southside head football coach Kim Dameron. 

Back in zero week of 2022 Tucker was ready to begin his junior season with Southside. He was coming off a stellar junior campaign where he led the team with 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns. 

In pregame warmups before taking on Northside he tore his ACL. Tucker's junior season was over just moments before it began. 

“I’m not going to lie once the doctor told me after I got my MRI, I started to break down and crying because I worked all offseason just for me to catch a kick and tear my ACL.," said Southside senior running back Amari Tucker. 

 “He’d put in so much hard work and he was ready to go and for that to happen in pre game warmups was a freak accident," Dameron said. 

In the spring, after surgery and a long rehab Tucker was cleared. On Friday he was ready for game action. Nearly a year to the day, he was prepared to once again take on Northside.

“Of course it crossed my mind, a year ago I tore my ACL, but I got back and it wasn’t scary because I knew I was good," said Tucker. 

Before taking the field Tucker had one more thing to do, address his teammates who were there for him every step of his recovery in a pregame locker room speech.

“Before the game I cried talking to the team, I couldn’t even get five words out of my body before I started shutting down and started crying," said Tucker. 

“I’m not a crier and he almost made me cry," said Dameron.

Tucker then went out and had one of the best games of his career and now hopes him and his teammates can keep that going all season long. 

“We’re 1-0 for the first time in a long time and It took me so much hard work and dedication to get back to where I was at," said Tucker.

Southside will look to make it two straight on Friday night when they head to Van Buren to take on the Pointers. 

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