EL CAMPO – Opposing defenses had a hard time stopping El Campo’s trio of running backs last season.
Johntre Davis, Charles Shorter and Rueben Owens combined to rush for 3,662 yards and 45 touchdowns, as the Ricebirds advanced to the Class 4A, Division I regional playoffs and finished with a 10-3 record.
The task could get even harder this season as Shorter, a senior, Davis, a junior, and Owens, a sophomore, could be on the field at the same time.
“We want get a situation where we put all three guys out there,” said El Campo coach Wayne Condra. “We’re going to try to keep the defense guessing on what we’re going to do.”
The Ricebirds are more than likely going to get the ball into one of their running backs’ hands.
All three have their own running style, but they all have the ability to score on any play.
“These guys work well together,” Condra said. “All three are unselfish. It’s one of those things where each one of them brings something different to the table. That’s the great thing about it. All three of them are very special young men and it’s one of those things where they all work well together.”
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Davis led the Ricebirds in rushing from his fullback position with 1,732 yards and 26 touchdowns.
“It feels good playing with these guys,” Davis said. “It feels better not knowing which one of us is going to get the ball. I know how they play and they know how I play. We know each other and we know what we’ve got to do.”
The 5-10, 160-pound Shorter rushed for 1,141 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“It’s actually great playing with these guys,” Shorter said. “They’re like brothers and we’re all family so we all work hard together and get things done.”
The 5-11, 185-pound Owens ran for 789 yards and four touchdowns last season, despite missing El Campo’s final two games.
He has already drawn a number of Division I offers and is ranked at or near the top of running back prospects in his grade class on many recruiting sites.
“It’s good playing with these guys,” Owens said. “We all run the ball hard and we all can go score. Over the summer, I worked hard. I feel like I improved way more so it’s not going to easy to bring me down this year.”
The three running backs also play defense, which gives Condra options on when to give them a break.
“I think there are situations on the depth end of it where we’re going to have the capability of subbing some guys in and out,” he said. “That’s going to help out this year.”
The key to El Campo making a deeper playoff run this season is likely to be the progress of the offensive line, which returns two starters.
But blocking for Shorter, Davis and Owens should make the line’s task easier.
“It’s exciting playing on the offensive line and being able to block for those guys,” Condra said. “Anyone of them can break it at any time.”