Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew running backs Tracy Gaston (front, left), Jordan Metts (front, right), Lester Knauls (back, left) and Marquis Terry (back, right) give the Titans one of the most potent running attacks in the county.
RIVERDALE — After relying on just one running back to carry the offensive load in his previous seasons, Drew coach Jarrett Laws tried an experiment this season.
With his standout running back from last season graduated, the Titans spread offense would employ a running back by committee approach this season.
No one particular player would be asked to shoulder the entire running load.
“It has been a good thing for us,” Laws says as his team prepares for its second subregion game of the season.
The backfield quadruplets of sophomores Marquis Terry and Tracy Gaston and juniors Jordan Metts and Lester Knauls might not be in the same category as the famed Notre Dame Four Horseman, but the group has been a force this season for the Titans.
As Drew running back coach James Davis sees it, he has four options at running back — and they are equal.
“This situation has worked out real good for us,” Davis said. “The good part about it is that it is not about how much you play, but what your do when you get in there. They are just about the same.”
And the players have embraced the new concept.
“We have some good chemistry among the running backs,” Metts said.
“We are a close group, and we enjoy sharing the ball,” Terry said. “We are not selfish. We play like a family.”
A game-clinching drive against Starr’s Mill two weeks ago could sum up the unselfishness of this group.
During a timeout as the Titans faced a fourth-and-goal from Starr’s Mill 1-yard line, Davis was trying to decide who would get the ball in this crucial situation. Metts made it easier on the coach when he volunteered to be the lead blocker for Knauls.
Knauls plunged in from the one as the Titans secured a 14-6 win on the road.
“He (Metts) is all about the team,” Davis said. “He understands that blocking is important too.”
Said Metts: “It didn’t matter who got the touchdown, someone had to score. I got plenty of carries on that drive.”
Heading into Friday’s game against Mundy’s Mill, Terry is the team’s leading rusher with 345 yards and seven touchdowns. Knauls is second with 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Metts has 188 yards and four touchdowns.
Against Forest Park last week, the Titans amassed 403 rushing yards, one of the best outputs in team history.
“We really work well together,” Knaul said. “We give each other a lot of energy. God has blessed us to be good teammates. We just thank the offensive line, because without them, none of this would be possible.”
With the return of the entire backfield and three linemen, Drew could have a potent offensive attack for the next couple seasons.
For now, they are focused on helping the Titans return to the postseason.
“This is a phenomenal group we have at Drew,” Gaston said. “We have a lot of speed and quickness. It is a good cycle we have because each of us do well when we are in the game.”