Tanque Verde has found rejuvenation in their run game
October 8, 2018 by Jackson Lautaret, Arizona State University
Last season the Tanque Verde Hawks ran for 2,097 yards total. In their matchup against Arizona College Prep on September 21, they ran for 575 yards.
Last year the Hawks found most of their rushing production from seniors Eric Teitelbaum and Marlo Corona who combined for 76 percent of the rushing game from last season. With both Teitelbaum and Corona gone due to graduation, the Hawks needed a new look.
They have found that new look on the backs of a plethora fresh faces, and an emphasis on execution.
“The biggest focus was on executing plays and running the ball. Eat the clock by running the rock. Ball control offense, keeping their offense off the field. We had to learn the Jimmy’s and Joes to adjust the Xs and Os,” said Tanque Verde head coach Jeremiah Johnson.
Tanque Verde runs a Wing-T offense where they run plays such as a trap, jet sweep and wedge. The traditional Wing-T consists of three running backs lined up behind the quarterback.
Tanque Verde runs various forms including the traditional and a two-running back/ two slotback form.
Halfway through the season the Hawks currently had five running backs who have rushed for nearly 100 yards this season, and there is no end in sight.
Four of the five running backs are homegrown players that have worked their way through the system to get into the varsity roster.
The fifth player is not so homegrown. He comes from Catalina Foothills High School and has instantly made an impact becoming the leading rusher on the team so far. At the top of the board is junior Kahlo Valenzuela, who transferred to Tanque Verde last winter.
“Kahlo is learning where the holes are going to open and how to adjust his run style to the Wing-T. He is a neat young man and we are lucky to have him,” said Johnson.
Valenzuela has rushed for more than 500 yards this season. To put a cherry on top, he also rushed for two touchdowns to cap off a 223-yard performance against Arizona College Prep.
While being a definite force on the field, Valenzuela is also a force within the team.
“Kahlo is a good football player. He’s adapted well to our run game as a new addition to the team,” said senior captain Peter Olberding.
“He brings a sense of positive energy onto the field that transfers into the rest of the team. I personally enjoy having him as a teammate and a friend,” he continued.
The rest of the list is filled with homegrown talent. Chase Birch, junior; Dillon Simmers, a sophomore; Joe Lines and Corbin Austin, a sophomore.
“Being more balanced in the run game is key. Spreading the ball around is natural when plays open up in the Wing-T. Plus it gets more kids involved,” said Johnson.
“It’s great being a part of this diverse running team,” said Birch, a fullback. “The reason why is because it’s easy, simple and we gain yards when we can,” he continued.
Even though the running backs hold the stats, the offensive line also gets the credit it deserves.
“Our run game has been quite amazing this year, and this is due to our running backs including myself and the linemen who open the holes and hold blocks for us,” said Birch.
“Within our run game, a lot relies on the offensive line,” said Olberding. “It comes down to the execution of plays and making successful blocks. By the line doing their job correctly, it allows multiple players to get the ball and run free,” he continued.