When losing a senior leader to the team, it can often be difficult to replace.
That’s the case for the Wylie Pirates football team, who lost their top two running backs last season. Namely, they lost starting tailback Blake Fuller, who led the team with 1,092 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season.
Fuller graduates and is heading to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor next fall, so the Pirates are left searching for options. Luckily for head coach Jimmy Carter, he likes multiple guys moving up the depth chart this offseason.
“Blake was an anomaly,” Carter said. “He took a bunch of hits but kept getting back up and responding well. He was really tough. We would’ve liked to keep him fresh and healthy at times but a couple of injuries forced our hand. We’d like to go back to staggering our running backs or even running two-back sets.”
Leading the way, Layne Chapman was a backup running back last season and will get the majority of the carries. He was hurt for most of the spring football last month and sat out the spring game but returns with the most experience. He rushed for one touchdown last year.
Coach Carter reiterated that he will be ready to go for the fall but was held out of the spring game just in case. That allowed the Pirates to give other players some more reps.
“We now have three very strong running backs,” Carter said. “They’re not straight-line sprinters but are quick and deceptive with the ball. They all churn out yards, block well and have taken to the new offensive scheme well.”
The other names to watch are Nico Lawrence and Roman Bush, who stood out in the competition during spring. Lawrence didn’t play football last year, but returned to the game after playing in junior high school.
Regardless of who is getting the most carries for Wylie, coach Carter and his team feel confident about their rushing attack heading into the new season. The Pirates are a program year after year that produce solid running backs.
“A lot of times, it is natural talent compared to coachable talent,” Carter said. “Teaching them where the play is going to develop and how it’s going to develop and allowing their natural talent to take over.”
The Pirates are working to install a new, faster-paced offense into the new season. With an experienced offensive line returning to the fold in a historically pretty balanced offense, coach Carter said the key for his guys is staying disciplined and taking advantage of opportunities.
“If we run the ball 100 percent of the time and won the game, I’d be happy,” Carter said. “Also, if we threw the ball 100 percent of the time and won, I’d also be happy. Whatever the defense is giving us, we’ll try and take advantage of and feel good about it either way.”
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By Kyle Grondin • firstname.lastname@example.org