EVERETT, Mass. -- Headed into last Saturday's matchup with Xaverian, Everett running back Vondell Langston had been putting up marginal rushing totals, with just 153 yards on 23 carries.
Those numbers reflected the role of a safety cushion for the No. 1 Crimson Tide's high-octane offense, used primarily in blitz pickup, short-yardage situations and dump-offs to the flats.
But following another 100-yard performance this afternoon, this time 102 yards and two scores in a 35-21 win over No. 3 BC High, the public officially knows what the football coaching fraternity has known for the last two seasons. Langston, who now has 305 yards in the last two weeks, can move the chains over and over again.
"That's our offensive line play," Langston said. "That's basically it. Our offensive line works hard, so they deserve all the credit. I get all the headlines, but they deserve the credit."
Fair enough -- there is Division 1 talent in the trenches, after all. But both the Eagles this afternoon and the Hawks last week came out in defensive alignments that respected the Tide's dangerous receivers, opening up the middle of the field for draws and counters.
When asked about the running strategy against the Eagles, head coach John DiBiaso broke it down in his trademark over-simplified fashion.
"Basically, what we do is we count," DiBiaso said. "If there's five guys in the box, we run. If there's seven, we pass. The whole first half, I think there was five in the box. So that means that we've got five blockers on five defenders, so we're going to run the ball and we did. Second half, they came out with six, so it was a bit more iffy."
Easier said than done. DiBiaso's run-and-shoot scheme demands a big-bodied tailback who can provide pass protection and also keep the defense honest with rushes up the middle when they overpursue. Meanwhile, junior Luke Catarius is a load at linebacker for BC High, standing 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, demonstrating a more than adequate worth in run support -- enough that some have begun to label him a BCS-caliber prospect.
There were times when Catarius stuffed the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Langston at the line of scrimmage. There were also times when Langston -- a former offensive guard and nose tackle in Everett's Pop Warner system ("I used to push the other fat guy over," he laughed) -- was the one lowering the boom. And there were still other times when he just blew by the backers to move the chains.
When it was suggested by a reporter that not any old running back can fulfill that role, DiBiaso used the point to jump into a topic he has brought up with the Boston media at several points this season -- that is, sentiments of amazement that no Division 1 school has yet to step forward with a scholarship offer. Langston is currently ranked the No. 8 overall prospect in Massachusetts by ESPN, as an outside linebacker, with interest from schools such as UMass.
"You know how I feel...he should be sitting with a scholarship," DiBiaso said. "I think he's as good as anybody in the state, but he just doesn't, for some reason, get that kinda...I don't think it's ink -- you guys talk a lot about him -- but the colleges. I don't know, he just doesn't get that respect that I think he deserves. I'd put him against any of those kids, those CM [Catholic Memorial] kids, other kids that have scholarships. He's a winner."
He added with a chuckle, "If you guys can influence somebody, by all means do."