Sitting behind Mechanicsburg’s all-time leading rusher on the Indians’ football depth chart the past three seasons, senior Phil Cook saw a minimum of carries.
It’s not that coach Kurt Forrest didn’t want to give Cook the ball. It’s more that he couldn’t.
When holding big leads and wanting to run time off the clock, Forrest turned to his backups to give then-senior Aeryton Erwin a rest. But not always Cook.
“We couldn’t give the ball to Phil because he would score almost every time he touched it late in the game,” Forrest said. “You’re just trying to eat clock and not necessarily punch one in.”
That’s not a concern this season. Cook, now the starting running back, has been unleashed.
Cook has rushed for 243 yards on 26 carries — an average of 9.3 yards per attempt — and five touchdowns to pace undefeated Mechanicsburg (2-0). He rushed for 117 yards in the season-opening win against West Jefferson and added 126 more last week against Fairbanks.
Mechanicsburg (2-0) hosts Northwestern (2-0) tonight.
“All the three years I was behind Aeryton — we were real good friends — he gave me tips. Just like how to do your stance, how to pick up your feet higher, little tips like that,” Cook said. “He broke 17 school records, so he was pretty insane. We’re best friends and since my freshman year he took me under his wing.”
Cook also credited the Indians’ offensive line with springing him loose on the field, and keeping the team loose off it.
“The holes are gigantic,” Cook said. “They are one of the closest offensive lines I’ve seen. They’ve got their own thing going on. They’re all goofy.”
The line consisting of senior tackle Trent Fuller, junior guards Dylan Hartley and Alex Walton, junior center Dylan Hartman, sophomore tackle Cannon Propst and senior tight ends David Harvey and Jacob Bowers has been dubbed the Chefs.
“Because,” Cook said, “they’re going to go in there and make pancakes.”
Mechanicsburg averages 539 yards in offense and allows 134. Add in double-threat junior quarterback Kaleb Romero and the Indians roll up 329 yards per game rushing, while opponents are averaging 65.
“What we do up front is all about playing physical and knocking people off the ball,” Forrest said. “All we do statistically isn’t near possible without the work those guys are doing up front.”
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