When asked if he's surprised by the production of his backfield so far this season, Lakeside High School football coach Randy Hill provides an honest reply.
"Yes," Hill said. "One of our goals is to not make mistakes, and these guys have gone far beyond that."
A-backs Tosin Fawibe and Philip Sadler, quarterback Jimmy Johnson and fullback Carl Burrow have exceeded everyone's expectations - except their own.
"No, I'm not surprised, because we worked hard over the summer, which put us in a good spot for the games," Fawibe said.
Lakeside's in a very good spot at this point. The Panthers sport a 3-0 record, and the key has been the triple-option offense Hill installed for 2003.
"At first we didn't think it would be so successful," Sadler said of the new approach. "Once we started playing games, we saw that it worked. I like it a lot."
Lakeside's Carl Burrow (clockwise, from left) Philip Sadler, Tosin Fawibe and quarterback Jimmy Johnson
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lakeside's opponents aren't so thrilled. The Panthers are averaging 34.3 points per game, which is impressive, considering the team's highest point total in any game last year was 24.
The onslaught began with a win over Westside. Burrow led the way with 197 yards rushing, and through three games, the junior is pacing the Panthers with 312 yards on the ground.
"What I did in the first game has pushed our other backs to beat that," said Burrow, who doesn't mind if a teammate steals the spotlight, "as long as we keep winning."
Sadler took his turn next. The senior scored three touchdowns to spark his squad past Evans, then tallied three more last week against Greenbrier. For the season, Sadler has sped for 255 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns.
Fawibe hasn't missed out on the fun. The senior has run for 215 yards and three touchdowns, and he starred in the victory last week at Greenbrier with a game-high 135 rushing yards.
"In our type of offense, if you stop one of us, then the other backs will have a big game," Fawibe explains. "You really can't key on one person, especially with our line blocking hard."
Lakeside's running backs don't mind sharing the wealth with Johnson.
Along with spearheading the ground game with ball distribution and sure hands, the junior quarterback has rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown through three games.
Johnson is also dangerous when he drops back to throw. He completed all three of his passes for 94 yards and a touchdown during the win over Greenbrier.
"I feel a little bit of pressure at the beginning of the game, but it calms down as we go through the game and get some big plays," Johnson said. "I just want Coach Hill to call the option to see what we can do."
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