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Pirates confident in options at running back

by | Jul 18, 2023 | Sports

The Wylie Pirates have felt confident in their lead running backs the last few seasons, but are looking at multiple options in 2023.

Last season, seniors Nico Lawrence and Layne Chapman were expected to take on the bulk of the carries. In the first quarter of the first game of the season against JJ Pearce, Lawrence went down with an injury that kept him out the rest of the season.

Chapman finished the season with over 700 yards and eight touchdowns, but now once again leaves a void to fill at running back for the third straight season. Luckily for the Pirates and head coach Jimmy Carter, the team has been in this position before and likes the options heading into 2023.

“We’re trying to replace another senior, and Layne worked hard and did a great job,” Carter said. “It’s probably going to be a lot of guys who get snaps in the backfield unless one separates from the rest. We have options and will continue to see how they work.”

The most experienced runners from last season were Roman Bueche and Braden Mancini, who were the third and fourth options in the backfield after Lawrence went down with an injury. Combined, the duo attempted just 30 carries on the season and ran for 125 yards.

Those two will split time with Khory Stoves, who also plays defense for the Pirates, along with junior varsity players Josh Ausborne and Jacob Mathewson, who move up to varsity and are battling for carries.

“All of these guys have been in our system and know what we want from them in the backfield,” Carter said. “They’ve worked hard in the spring and summer to get stronger and improve their speed and agility. I don’t think anyone has stood out to the point where they may get 30 carries, but it might come down to the hot hand and who is running and blocking well.”

When it comes to deciding who will get the majority of the carries, all five runners have the qualities to separate themselves in the backfield. Bueche and Mathewson can run physically and get between the tackles, while Mancini, Ausborne and Stoves have more explosiveness on the outside.

With those five players, all bringing something to the table, it at least gives the Pirates depth and versatility at the position, even if a star hasn’t shown yet this offseason.

“If you have two or three good running backs, you can run the football really well,” Carter said. “You can make up for not having one guy get all the touches if everyone can do a good job when we ask them to step up.”

Bueche is the most experienced of the group, as the lone senior battling for carries in the backfield. In a limited role, he ran for over five yards per carry for the Pirates last season and offers a physical presence in the Wylie offense.

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