Running the football effectively is a key at any level, but the bread-and-butter of most high school offensive attacks. At no other level does a running back single-handedly take over a football game that at the prep ranks.
This week we honor the best rushing performances in week three action across the state. These aren't your vanilla 100-yard, two touchdown performances. These players literally sliced, diced and carved up opposing defenses and put up some crooked numbers as a result.
-Maple Heights is moving up the D-II rankings and now sit at 3-0 following a 46-0 whitewash of Valley Forge. The catalyst was tailback Davonte Ransom, who rushed for 244 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
-Groveport Madison's Leveon Bell showed why he's the eleventh-ranked running back in the state in his team's 35-20 win over Dublin Jerome. Bell rushed for 338 yards and four touchdowns, including a 98-yarder in the fourth quarter. He also scored on 65, 54 and two yard runs.
-Austintown Fitch is quietly putting together a nice season (3-0) and had no problem putting away Riverside this weekend, rolling to a 55-7 win. In about a half of work, running back Bruce Reed rushed for 183 yards on just 12 carries (15.3 ypc) and scored two first half TDs on runs of 27 and 63 yards.
-Lyndhurst Brush finished 0-10 last season. This season, the Arcs are out to a 3-0 record, the first time they've been there in 25 years. In Brush's 48-0 pasting of Toledo Scott, freshman running back Patric Hannon carried 10 times for 146 yards and scored four touchdowns (23, 11, 10, 70 yds).
-Speaking of breaking losing skids, how about Lutheran East stopping an 18-game slide dating back to October 2007. The Falcons defeated Fairfield Christian 30-13 behind senior tailback Levert Cox. A week after going over 200 yards, Cox did even better, rushing for 290 yards on 24 carries and scoring twice.
-One of the biggest games in Division V featured a matchup between unbeatens West Jefferson and Columbus Bishop Ready. In a narrow contest, Ready snuck past West Jefferson 24-21 thanks in large part to running back Demetrius Clark. He scored all three Ready touchdowns on runs of 82, 22, and 9 yards and finished with 245 yards on 26 carries.
-Spencer Ware missed Princeton's two first games with a hip injury, but made his presence felt in his first game back. In Princeton's 27-21 overtime win over Glen Este, the Rivals250 member accounted for all his team's points, rushing for four touchdowns and finishing with 156 rushing yards.
-Youngstown Cardinal Mooney's Braylon Heard is becoming a regular on the Primetime Performers list, but he'll continue to be until somebody can stop him. The West Virginia recruit was once again stellar, rushing for 182 yards on just eight carries in Mooney's convincing 49-20 win over Elyria Catholic. Heard scored on 68, 41, and 13 yard runs all in the first half.
-Canton McKinley is one of the most historically-rich programs in the nation, so you know when somebody flirts with a school single-game record, they've had a good night. Such was the case with Bryce Wilder, who finished with 297 rushing yards--the fourth-most in McKinley history--during the Bulldogs' 24-7 win over Uniontown Lake. Wilder averaged over 10 yards on 29 carries and added a touchdown.
The most impressive night, however, might have belonged to Erick Howard, Ohio Varsity's top-ranked back in the class of 2010. Ohio's reigning Mr. Football was sensational in North Canton Hoover's come-from-behind 41-20 win over Lexington, the state's top-ranked Division II team.
Howard rushed for 277 yards on a whopping 50 carries and scored three touchdowns. But it was his second-half workmanlike effort that propelled Hoover to the victory. Facing a 20-7 deficit, Howard carried on 32 of the Vikings' 37 second-half plays (156 second-half yards) all while doing double-duty at middle linebacker.