Ryan Wydra @schoops1
The Running Back position is one of the most important to any offense. This is how a team will gain a lot of its most difficult yards. The Offensive line will open a hole, and the back will shoot right through as fast as possible. Sometimes the player only has a few seconds to get past the front seven of a defense. If a team can establish a strong ground game, they will have the ability to control the clock and set the tempo of a game. This will keep the opposing offense off the field and make it difficult for them to win. At the high school level, the team with the most dominating ground game will win most of the time. Coaches like to have a running back who can be the work horse of the team. Now we will look at five running backs who will be real difference makers for their teams this year!!
MIKE BICKFORD – CENTRAL REGIONAL
Is there any running back in the state who had a more productive 2014 season than Mike Bickford? Bickford made his debut as a sophomore this past year. The running back arguably had one of the best seasons’ ever, averaging 7.2 yards per carry, and finishing with an unbelievable 2,052 rushing yards. This broke the school record that was set by Kalyph Hardy in 2011. The running back also found the end zone 25 times. Mike was really just a lot of fun to watch as he brought tremendous excitement to the Central Regional fanbase. Central went on to have their best season in 20 years, finishing with an 8-3 record. The team won Class B South and a first round playoff game for the first time in 20 years. Mike rushed for 246 yards and scored 3 touchdowns in the first round playoff win against Oakcrest. Central Head Coach Willie Jacobs must have a lot of optimism about the teams’ potential success going into 2015. Defenses are going to have a very hard time slowing down his star running back. Central Regional will definitely be a favorite to win B South again. The Shore is lucky to have a running back like Mike Bickford around for the next two years.
COLE ROGERS – MIDDLETOWN SOUTH
Cole Rogers was one of the most prolific weapons on offense in the 2014 season. The running back was as explosive as you can get. Rogers can hit the hole fast, and use his athleticism to get past defenders. Rogers racked up a total of 1,867 rushing yards and finished with 26 touchdowns. Rogers helped give the Eagles one of the best rushing attacks in the Shore. The Eagles finished with a 9-3 record and rolled all the way to the Central Jersey Group IV Championship Game. Middletown South fans should be very excited about Rogers in 2015. The Eagles will once again utilize him to carry the load and spark the offense down the stretch. Look for the Eagles to make a serious run in Central Jersey Group IV.
MIKE GAWLIK – JACKSON MEMORIAL
Jackson Memorial finished the 2014 season as one of the best rushing teams around. The team could simply get it done on the ground. It was the ground game that helped propel Jackson Memorial to the No 1 ranking in the Shore. Mike Gawlik was an instrumental part of the Jaguars dominance. Gawlik is very much like the Darren Sproles of the Shore Conference. When someone hands Gawlik the ball, he is in the open field faster than defenders are able to realize it. It is very hard for teams to account for where he is on the field. Gawlik put up fantastic numbers in 2014, accumulating 1,165 rushing yards, and 21 touchdowns. Mike’s winning touchdown in overtime against Red Bank Catholic will always go down as one of the best plays in Jackson Memorial history. The Jaguars are going to lean heavily on the running ability of Mike Gawlik this season. Expect Mike to once again be a huge part of the offense.
ASANTE MOORER – TOMS RIVER NORTH
Everyone knows the Mariners will rely on the power running game. Asante Moorer is the player that makes the power running game work for Toms River North. Moorer is coming off a tremendous season, rushing for 1,064 yards and 9 touchdowns. Moorer is a strong running back at 6’1″ and 218lbs who can power his way to move the sticks. He is also not a running back that any defender wants to lose in the open field. Moorer brings the whole package as an offensive weapon. Toms River North are coming off a succssful 6-5 season, winning a playoff game in 2014. Moorer will once again be a huge part of the offense for Mariners. He will take a lot of pressure away from Quarterback Mike Husni as the Mariners look to compete for a Class A South Title. Keep your eye on Asante Moorer during the upcoming season.
NICK GRANDE – TOMS RIVER EAST
Nick Grande came on to the scene during the 2014 season. He would split time with Senior Jeff Wood, but found a way to take advantage of every opportunity. Grande can use his speed to get to the outside. He can also use his athleticism to make defenders miss. Nick would finish the season averaging 5.0 yards per carry, and rushing for 384 yards in limited action. He did have three 100 yard games for the Raiders. This year he will be the featured back in the offense. The team will count on him to make a lot of big plays. Toms River East will rely on Grande to lead the rushing attack in 2015. Look for Nick to really step up and take his game to the next level.
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