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Despite their differences in systems, area football teams will take to the field with a combined major goal — establish the run.
Each week leading up to the start of the season we’ll take a look at one unit on the offensive and defensive side of the ball to preview Mid-Prairie, Highland and Lone Tree football. This week’s offensive preview focus on running backs.
Highland returns two experienced backs in Jordan Sosa and Brady Hahn, while also expecting Cole Adamson to get into the mix.
Highland coach Scott Morel said he expects all three to get around equal carries this season and that each has their own strengths.
“Any of those guys are playmakers that can break things open. Brady does a great job of reading blocks, Jordan can be a hammer and runs hard and Cole does a really good job of accelerating through the hole,” Morel said.
The ground game was a struggle for the Huskies a year ago as they averaged around 2.5 yards per carry between running backs. Sosa had 126 yards on 68 attempts with one touchdown and Hahn had 106 yards on 34 attempts with one touchdown.
With starting running back Bryce Houser’s status up in the air with an injury, the Lions are hopeful he can get back on the field soon but feel like they have the pieces in place to keep up a high-powered running game.
Aaron Bohr said Avery Knock has a different style of running compared to Houser but “showed last year that he can be every bit as effective.”
Bohr also said that Ryan Kirkpatrick and Ty Griffin are seniors with experience that have the ability to impact the running game alongside juniors Brady Dauber, Tyler McCullough and Moses Martinez.
Houser was eighth in rushing yards last season in 8-player. He had 1,374 yards on 194 carries, good for 7.1 yards per touch. He scored 26 rushing touchdowns.
“From our first game last year, Bryce showed the toughness and determination needed to be a feature back,” Bohr said. “He is a physical runner and finishes his runs, which is a major reason why he scored 26 touchdowns last year.”
As Bohr said, Knock made an impact when given the opportunity as he had 7.9 yards per carry on 50 rushing attempts last season. He had five touchdowns including a 35- yard run.
Kirkpatrick had 14 rushes for 54 yards and a touchdown, Moses Martinez rushed for 34 yards and one touchdown on seven carries and Griffin had 47 yards on nine touches.
The Golden Hawks return Justin Schwartz, who saw a lot of time as the primary running back due to injuries. He rushed for 337 yards on 64 carries last season and scored three touchdowns.
Mid-Prairie coach Pete Cavanagh said he expects Schwartz to be the primary running back out of the power I formation.
“He’s got great vision and good balance. He’s not the biggest kid in the world but he knows how to carry himself and take a hit,” Cavanagh said.
When the Golden Hawks move into shotgun or a one-back situation, Schwartz will likely move out to wide receiver with Rex Peck or Conner Miller moving back.
Cavanagh said Jaron Utzinger, and David Murray will also see some carries this season and also play some fullback.
“(Carries) will definitely be split up and I think we’ll run our quarterback Brad Tornow a bit too,” Cavanagh said. “We like to have a balance somewhat as we’re an I-formation, power-I and pistol team.”