Senior running back Jordan de Leon has touched the ball 57 times in the Raiders’ North quarterfinal and semifinal wins, chewing up 500 yards and finding the end zone nine times.
Many would call that production a solid season. de Leon calls it two games worth.
The senior's production would have been even greater (scary right?) if he were not pulled for the majority of the second half in the Raiders’ 55-7 quarterfinal win over Douglas.
“He gives us a go-to play whenever we need it,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “When we need a first down, option No. 1, option No. 2 and option No. 3 are go to Jordan.”
Option No. 4, No. 5 etc. aren’t too bad for the Raiders either. Dual-threat quarterback Chris Denn has enough options – led by Trae Wells, Wade Eiler and Alex Hernandez – to make a defensive coordinator approach hysteria.
Despite the disgusting playoff numbers, de Leon does not take any credit.
“My line has a done a great job holding their blocks and making the big gaps for me to run through,” he said.
Listed at 6 feet, 220 pounds, de Leon – who also runs the 100 meters, 4x100m relay and throws the shot put and discus for the RHS track team – can use his 4.5-40m time to run past defenders or use his healthy frame to run over them. He’s a bulldozer with a Ferrari motor.
“That No. 21, de Leon, is a truck,” Galena coach Steve Struzyk said watching Reed's tailback rush for 286 yards against the Grizz defense last Friday. “I wouldn’t want to tackle him and I’m pretty sure some of our kids didn’t want to at the end either. He wore us out.”
With the ability to lower a shoulder and orchestrate “oo’s” and “ah’s” from the crowd, de Leon said he would rather run around opponents than through them.
Would-be tacklers are speed bumps. He doesn’t have time for that.
“It’s nice to run around people and not have to go through them because it slows me down, so when I can, I try to avoid them,” de Leon said. “But if they’re in my way, then I just go right over the top.”
The senior workhouse has developed into the main focus of the Reed offense and de Leon sees that as a good thing. What is pressure anyway?
“I’m doing the thing I love to do for all these people and I love every single one of these people out on the field right now,” de Leon said, gesturing toward the entire Raider team going through its Tuesday workout. “I would do anything for them.”
De Leon will certainly be asked to do his share in Friday’s North Region title game against Carson at Damonte Ranch.
The Raiders (10-1) handled Carson (9-2) in Week 4, 64-26, in lieu of de Leon’s absence. The senior watched the game in sweats after turning his ankle in practice that week.
He said it took him nearly three weeks to get back to 100 percent. If he was at 100 percent in Week 7, he’s earning extra credit heading into Friday’s title game.
Sure, Reed is playing for its third straight North title and a state berth is on the line against a budding rival. But for de Leon, it’s nothing more than Week 12.
“Friday’s a big game for us, it’s the championship game, but you know, we have played every single game like it’s the championship game,” de Leon said. “So we are just preparing the same.”