NORTH AUGUSTA — Have fun tackling 6-foot-2, 228-pound Ike El when he powers the football up the middle.
Now try to be wary of El while still keeping an eye on the speedsters.
Fox Creek (4-1) has used a balanced rushing offense to double the previous year’s win total – and the Predators haven’t even played a game in October yet. In the Predators’ four wins vs. McCormick, Branchville, Augusta Christian and Ridge Spring-Monetta, at least three players have rushed for 47 yards or more in every game.
Against McCormick, Darshon Broadwater, El, Dalton Swires and Jaquan Williams all reached the 50-yard mark without anyone getting more than 58 yards.
“What it does is, Ike hits the middle so hard, it’s forced teams to clog up the middle,” Predators coach Russell Schneider said. “Then the guys on the outside are successful. Then you have (quarterback) Deondre (Baskett), who can fake it and keep it himself. That’s been the big key for us offensively.”
With players complementing each other, there has also been room for an individual to post huge numbers against defenses that are forced to stop multiple candidates. In a 27-20 win against Augusta Christian, Baskett and El both rushed for more than 100 yards. Earlier in the year, when the Predators stomped Branchville 41-7, El had 141 rushing yards on only 16 attempts.
“It’s been fun,” El said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons on offense.”
Fox Creek’s only loss this season game to Dreher, a school that is two classifications higher at AAA. But in their four wins, the Predators are averaging 35.5 points, which is almost two touchdowns more per game than what they scored against those same four teams in 2012 when they went 1-3.
This week’s game with region force Williston-Elko, which has never lost to the Predators, is a major test. The Blue Devils have also won four games in a row.
It’s the perfect test for a still-improving offense that has surged behind a physical line.
“Our line is faster and stronger than we’ve ever had,” Schneider said. “We’ve never pushed anybody off the ball here.”