October 1, 2009 9:59:00 AM
WEST POINT -- West Point High School has what senior running back Xavier Hogan calls the three-headed monster.
"You stop one head and you still have the other two to deal with," Hogan said. "It is really hard to stop that."
Hogan is referring to the Green Wave''s depth at running back with himself, LaKenderic Thomas, and Jacoby Lee. Running back coach Tracy Welch said the Green Wave values depth at the position because they play a physical game.
"The way we run the ball they each take a good pounding," Welch said. "When one gets banged up or injured, the other two can pick up the slack and keep on moving."
West Point (4-1) will try to get its ground game going at 7 p.m. Friday when it travels to Columbus to take on New Hope (4-0) in the Class 5A, Region 1, District 2 opener for both teams.
West Point keeps the ball moving so well partly because the offense can run the same plays, regardless of who is in the backfield, West Point coach Chris Chambless said. Of the 200 yards per game West Point has earned this season, the yards gained are split evenly among the three.
"They complement each other really well," he said.
Welch said all he asks each running back to do is to get him 4 yards a carry. West Point has rushed for 817 yards on 174 carries, or about 5 yards a carry, this season.
"That is our philosophy," he said. "(It''s) good if you outrun people. If not, make it hurt if they tackle you and get the 4 yards. Maybe by the fourth quarter they will be tired of tackling us and we can break some long runs."
Chambless said Thomas is more of a power hitter. And Thomas agreed, saying he likes to fight for his yards.
"I like to meet my contact," he said. "I run hard, not too much east and west -- straight ahead. I love playing hard, especially with my offensive line. I stay humble with them. They are a good line. They block hard and block all the time."
Welch said Thomas, a 200-pounder, wants to hit people and carry them to get his 4 yards.
"He is a bruiser. He''ll get our 4 yards and we can control the clock," he said.
When Thomas was out with an injury earlier this season, Lee filled in and did so well Chambless said the Green Wave can''t take him out of the rotation. Lee said he possesses speed and power, but favors his speed.
"This is only (Jacoby''s) first full year of football," Welch said. "As good as he is now, he is only going to get better."
Welch said he likes to see Hogan in the open field because he is real shifty, but he it''s also tough for one player to bring him down.
"I play with power and speed. I cut a lot," Hogan said. "I''ve got trucking ability, but I really like to shake people."
Hogan (36 points this season), like the other running backs, also credits his offensive line for the team''s ability to run the ball.
"When one of our kids scores or makes a big run, they always go and congratulate the offensive line because they make it possible," Welch said. "It is no coincidence all three backs are becoming successful. Our line is good."
Chambless said it will be key for the Green Wave to get all three running backs healthy at the same time. Thomas and Hogan have been injured at different times this season.
Chambless said Thursday morning that Hogan won''t play Friday against New Hope "unless something dramatic happens." He said he doesn''t expect something dramatic to happen.
"Once we get them all healthy it will mean a lot," he said. "It''s a long season and we get hit hard every week. It''ll help keep them fresh since any of them can run the football."
Even though Hogan has been sidelined, however, Chambless said his leadership is still appreciated on the field.
"It is like having another coach on the sidelines," he said. "The mental part of football is very important, and he has such a positive impact on everyone''s attitude."
Hogan said he provides this leadership because his teammates need to see a leader who wants the same thing they want.
"It is of no doubt that we want the state championship," he said. "I love (my teammates) to death, and they love me."