Running at Dowagiac a team effortPublished 9:32pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012
One would think that when you look at the fact that the Dowagiac football team has rushed for more than 2,600 yards this season it would have at least one 1,000-yard rusher.
But because of the way the Chieftains run the football, they don’t even have a player with more than 600 yards rushing. Dowagiac has used 12 running backs this season of which nine have carried the ball at least 15 times.
There are a variety of reasons for this. And veteran Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger admits that if his team ran out of the ‘I’ formation or ran a two-back set, he probably would have two players with more than 1,000 yards.
But Dowagiac is a Wing-T team that has multiple options each down to choose from. While Todd McIntyre is the team’s leading rusher with 530 yards, there are five other backs with 290 or more yards.
“First of all, they are unselfish,” Stanger said. “We talked to them at the beginning of the year saying that the defense was going to give us the opportunity to win championships. The guys that we need on defense are out there. What that means is they are going to need a breather here and there on offense so they can play defense.
“Evidence of that is that I think our leading rusher has 530 yards this year. But then we have about four others who are over 350 or pushing 400. That was sort of our philosophy, if they can’t score they can’t beat us, so let’s stay fresh on defense. Offensively we have the weapons to get the job done. I firmly believe that if we lined up in an ‘I’ or focused on two backs we would have two 1,000-yard rushers.”
Another reason why Dowagiac doesn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher is the fact that quarterback Brett Scanlon is the team’s second leading ground gainer with 447 yards.
In this offense, the quarterback has a dual role as he must be an accomplished rusher as well as have the ability to throw the ball. While he has not always had that true option with other Chieftain signal callers, Scanlon is most definitely an accomplished running back.
In fact, Dowagiac and Stanger leaned heavily on his running ability in a 31-28 win over Three Rivers.
Stanger has been pleased with the fact that all of his ball carriers have accepted their roles and week after week play up to their abilities.
“To their credit, none of them have ever come to me and asked for more carries,” he said.
Dowagiac running backs do a lot more than just carry the football. They are expected to catch the ball as well and block for each other.