Through one month of the high school football season, one thing has already been made abundantly clear:
The running backs are back.
Not that they ever went away; quite the contrary. Running the football always has, always will, be a staple for any team that hopes to have gridiron success, no matter what level you’re talking about.
Early indications have told us that, at least on the North Shore, the guys who lug the football on sweeps, dives, traps, counters, draws, bootlegs, reverses and options have emerged as the brightest stars of 2012.
Looking at the past 10 seasons, four of those (2002, 2004, 2006 and 2011) had six players from The Salem News coverage area run for 1,000 or more yards. There were also drops in production during the past decade; 2005 had only two 1,000-yard rushers, and there were just three apiece in both 2007 and 2008.
This fall, however, looks to be the year in which that high water mark is topped.
Based on a number of factors, there are as many as 10 players in the area who could crack 1,000 yards on the ground before the helmets are finally put away.
Beverly could have a pair of 1,000-yard teammates in Brendan Flaherty and Kenny Pierce. Either one would easily crack the barrier if they were the featured back in the Panthers’ offense, but they virtually split carries and see what could be individual monster numbers reduced for the definite betterment of the team. Still, Flaherty is on pace for 1,029 yards rushing and Pierce for 963, numbers they should easy pass.
Only a sophomore but already one of the North Shore’s prolific runners, burly Rufus Rushins is averaging 185 yards a game through four games for the unbeaten Crusaders; that averages out to a ridiculous 2,035 rushing yards in 11 games. Of course, Fenwick is no stranger to 2K backs; Bobby Tarr went for more than 2,000 in both 2006 (2,119) and 2007 (2,380).