Longview Running Backs Steal the Show in Spring Game
LONGVIEW -- Apple would have been proud of the presentation the Lobos gave their fans Friday at Lobo Stadium.
There's something special about captivating an audience that has known for months what's coming down the pipe. Longview accomplished it.
Surprise! The Lobos will have a number of strong running backs coming through their program this season, and they should fit into Longview's ultimate product this with carryovers leading the charge for years to come.
"We're pretty deep at that position," head coach John King said. "We've had an opportunity to showcase all of them throughout spring at different times. We've been real pleased with their performances."
The perennial power gave its attending fans something they can hold onto while its final product is still in development. No emcee required at this show.
JaMycal Hasty, Tylan Miller, Dezmein Dennis, Hunter Marqueis, Austin Moore, D'Crayvan Polk and Kendrevian White did their talking on the field. Seven running backs doing special things at different points in their careers.
"I'm looking forward to a strong run game, pass game and the things we're doing on defense," Hasty said. "We're strong in a whole bunch of places, so I'm hoping we can do some special things."
The fans know what to expect from Hasty. He's a nationally known running back recruit and a recent Baylor commitment who rushed for 13 touchdowns and 1,413 yards last season.
He hardly had a role in the spring game yet still caught a long pass and made some moves on his limited carries. It was a nice cliffhanger because fans are grasping at straws for anything Hasty can't do.
"He didn't have a whole lot he needed to prove to anybody," King said. "He's only been back for us for about a week (from track). We knew we were going to involve him for a few plays, the first 10 or 12, and then get him out. Tylan has done the bulk of the work this spring and needed a few more of the reps."
This day belonged to Miller and the up-and-coming cast, if you can call it that. Most of the fan base knew them by name and were interested in seeing what kind of gains the players had made in the winter offseason.
Dennis and Hunter were important players as juniors last season on the way to a third-round appearance in the Class 5A Division II playoffs while Miller stood out as a sophomore. Moore had a good year working with the junior varsity and will likely replace Hunter after this season. Polk and White played at the freshman level and will probably develop in the junior varsity program through the first 10 weeks of the season.
Each shined in their own way.
The varsity players simply made steady gains and were difficult to bring down, even for what the Lobos see as an above-average defense.
Miller and Dennis excelled in finding their running lanes and creating more space with shifty moves.
"Tylan is everything we thought he would be," King said. "He's a load. He catches the ball out of the backfield. He doesn't have JaMycal speed, but he's kind of a different back. He's going to give us an added dimension to our running game and we plan on utilizing him in different ways."
Hunter is a 6-foot, 240-pound fullback and almost always has to be brought down by gang tackling. Moore comes from the same prototype.
The scrimmage remained interesting when the varsity was called off the field.
Polk and White managed to make the same type of steady runs against a fairer level of competition. They're not tailbacks who could just as easily pass off for young receivers, quarterbacks or defensive backs.
It was definitely a good day to be a Lobo. Its signature running game appears to have a long-term lease on life.
Not a bad day for other position groups either.
Dez Chumley had a nice day throwing the ball and even caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Cameron Castleberry from a wideout spot.
The head coach also walked away from spring ball believing his 2014 defense rivals the biggest seasonal jump any of his other defensive units have made despite some green players.
"We have another week with them, so we're going to do some housekeeping duties," King said. "We're going to get everyone ready with a strength and conditioning program and also seven-on-seven."