Sunday, September 27, 2009
The way the Soroco football team used Cody Miles last week reminds me of my second season covering the Kansas State University football team.
That was 2004, and Darren Sproles, now kicking tail for the San Diego Chargers, was the Wildcats' star. The year before, the 'Cats had upset No. 1 Oklahoma to win the school's first Big 12 football championship.
Most of the best players from that team graduated, however. All of them except Darren Sproles. K-State beat Western Kentucky in the first game of the year, 27-13. It wasn't ever really close, but the game might have been the first sign that the dominating era from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s was finished.
And K-State coach Bill Snyder knew it. In the first game that season, he ran Sproles 42 times. The team gained 306 yards rushing and Sproles accounted for 221. That was the story the entire season and Sproles set most of the school's rushing records.
The talent at that point had tailed off at K-State. But that's not at all the case at Soroco High School.
Miles has plenty of weapons that are part of the reason he's had so much success. But watching the Rams play, sometimes it feels like the "Darren Sproles Show" that K-State used to put on. Snyder used to simply dare opponents to stop him. Soroco coach David Bruner does the same with Miles.
The Soroco senior ran the ball 20 times and passed it 11 last week in the team's first home game, accounting for all but eight of Soroco's offensive snaps. And Miles usually produced. He scored seven total touchdowns, six on the ground. When the Rams had the ball with 80 yards to go, Miles would roll out and either look for a long pass or scramble. He scored his team's first touchdown by scrambling from that far.
And when there was just 1 yard to go, it was Miles again, plowing up the middle. There's a lot of credit that needs to be passed out. After the game, Miles immediately pointed to his offensive line. Senior Matt Watwood had a great game, too, catching one important pass and picking up big yards on a pair of long reverses. Alex Estes is the team's go-to receiver and a good, strong and quick-playing tailback. Michael Rossi caught a nice pass, as well.
Those guys have been important thus far, but may become even more so soon.
The Sproles strategy didn't work all that well for K-State in 2004. He set the school record for rushing yards with 292 later that season, but against better teams, the one-man show fell flat, and K-State missed a bowl for the first time in 12 years.
Soroco's schedule gets substantially more difficult in the next month. Miles has proven plenty capable, but if the Rams are to continue to roll, focusing on one man, however talented, might not be enough.