Many coaches swear that to win in football you need balance. It’s much harder for the other team to stop you if they know what’s coming before the ball is snapped. The Ballard Bruins scoff at that notion, out of necessity.
Ballard, 3-3 after defeating visiting Eastern (2-3) by a score of 48-25 Friday, has a stable of running backs that would make Churchill Downs proud. Consider the way they grounded the Eagles by gaining 399 yards on 45 rushing attempts while only passing it eight times. Yes, there was a slight drizzle all game long, but Eastern passed it 30 times.
“Our strength is our running backs and we have a slew of them,” Bruins coach Mike Jackson said. “I feel bad. I wish I could redshirt about four of them. We’re so loaded there that we have kids who would start any other year and they’re third or fourth on the depth chart. We’ve got a real good kid starting and it’s hard to unseat him in David Daniels.”
It’s also hard to keep him from scoring, as Eastern found out. Daniels was responsible for 18 points in the first quarter, with touchdown runs of 44, 9 and 5 yards. His third score put Ballard up 22-13, and the Eagles, who came back from a 14-0 deficit earlier, couldn’t recover this time. Ballard led 48-13 before Eastern scored two late touchdowns to make it respectable.
“We jumped on them early and they still came back and popped us in the mouth,” Jackson said. “I’m kind of glad that it happened that way and didn’t end up being a complete runaway. We had to hunker down and fight a bit at the end of the first quarter. We had to execute, and we found some things and found a rhythm with what was working.”
Which was, basically, handing the ball off. Walter Chambers scored on a 2-yard run. Ben Mink didn’t score, but he did the previous week against Manual. That’s just the first wave of backs, though.
“There’s Brian Dawkins, who we call the Bus,” said Jackson. “Then there’s Devon Page and Isaiah Robertson. Jody Osborne, who transferred in and just became eligible recently, he’s a speedster and he’s got some elusiveness. Jacob Bosco, who is just a sophomore, he ran the ball well tonight. I’m probably leaving someone out, but there are like eight, nine kids and they come to practice every day knowing they are way down the chart. Especially Devon Page. He’s a senior. He transferred in and didn’t get to play last year. He’s just behind other great players. He’s a great kid.”
Page scored Ballard’s sixth and final rushing touchdown, from 23 yards out.