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Fountain-Fort Carson runs veer with speed, intelligence
As Fountain-Fort Carson coach Mitch Johnson faced the white board, his eyes were sparkling. He wielded his marker like a conductor with his baton and as he diagrammed the nuances of the Trojans’ split-back veer offense, his speaking tempo increased gradually but steadily.
As he continued, the increased pace made more and more sense since the offense is about speed, speed and more speed.
“You can not run split-back veer too fast,” Johnson said. “It’s got to hit with lightning quickness because what we’re trying to do is isolate one player and force him to make a split-second decision.”
Put simply, each play identifies a single defender who is often left unblocked. The quarterback reads what that defender does and then options into a choice that makes that decision the wrong one. Each play can have two, three or more outcomes.
Fountain-Fort Carson is forcing those decisions with tremendous success this season. No. 8 Fountain (8-1) hosts No. 25 Douglas County (5-4) at 7 p.m. Friday in the first round of the 5A state playoffs.
The Trojans have run for 2,648 yards, an average of 294.2 per game, which is good for fifth in 5A. The team’s leading rusher is Anthony Davis, who is third among 5A runners with 1,424 yards, which breaks down to 158.2 per game and an amazing 9.3 per carry.
Davis missed the first four games of the 2011 season with a broken collarbone, but came back to run for 807 yards over the final seven contests, averaging 8.1 yards per carry.
But Davis is just one of three seniors who are the engines of the Fountain-Fort Carson ground game. Solyde Bankston, who has what Johnson refers to as “sprinter speed,” ran for 1,243 yards last year while picking up most of the slack for Davis’ absence. He has struggled with an ankle injury that has limited him to 307 yards this season but had 89 yards and three touchdowns in Friday’s 33-28 win over Heritage.
The other senior is Ben Selby, the biggest of the three, who has 412 yards this season and is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in the second game of the 2011 campaign.
“You can see the amount of wear and tear on running backs,” Johnson said in reference to the injuries. “They’ve all had to learn to battle through that wear and tear at Colorado’s highest classification.
“All three of those running backs are as physical and as talented as any players that we’ve ever had here.”
With Bankston’s and Selby’s health improving weekly and with Davis racking up yardage in chunks, Johnson is getting closer to having three legitimate threats at just the right time. His offense is at its most effective when every back on the field is a threat on every play.
“We’re building on that predication that we’re going to attack defensive weakness, try to exploit their weakness and get the ball to the free guy who’s not defended,” Johnson said. “The people that work at having a balanced running attack — that’s what our goal is — are really hard to defend.”
“It’s a really good offense,” Davis said.
“It’s helped us get to 8-1 and hopefully we can keep going and win a state championship.”
Anything is possible when you add multiple threats to multiple options.