Edward Little running back, Caden Begos stands in front of teammates Dawson Tracey, Kevin LaChance, Alexander Merchant, Latrell Thomas, and Gunnar Winslow before football practice in Auburn on Thursday.
AUBURN — Edward Little senior left guard Latrell Thomas can empathize with those unfortunate foes who have to stop running back Caden Begos.
“When you try to tackle him, it’s like he’s tackling you, he hits so hard. I’ve tried to tackle him plenty of times, and it hurts,” Thomas said.
“He’s like a bowling ball rolling downhill,” Edward Little coach Dave Sterling said. “He’s really a hard man to tackle.”
Before they can try to tackle him, defenders need to find him.
At 5-foot-6, 212 pounds, Begos can seemingly vanish in gridiron traffic.
“Caden knows how to use (his size) and appear from behind people and sets up blocks really well,” Sterling said.
Many of those blocks come from Thomas and linemates Alex Merchant, Gunnar Winslow, Kevin Lachance and Dawson Tracey, a group that has helped pave the way to 229 yards and a league-leading seven touchdowns through two games.
“They’re awesome. They do their job,” Begos said. “Sometimes I mess up, but I tell them, ‘Hey, next play. Here we go.'”
Begos, a three-year starter, is excited he can look forward to every next play after an injury-plagued junior season. He tore his meniscus and missed two games and was hobbled in others by unrelated leg problems.
“It was very frustrating. Seeing that I couldn’t help my team really infuriated me,” he said.
“I’m healthy this year, and I guess that’s really all it is. I hope to keep it that way,” he added.
The Red Eddies certainly hope so, too. Filling the void when Begos was out last year was impossible.
“It was a huge difference,” Sterling said. “Late in some of our games last year, we couldn’t run the ball to try to work clock.”
Sterling is pleased with the balance the 2-0 Eddies have had in wins over Bangor and Portland. EL’s passing game, led by QB Grant Hartley and wide receiver Maxx Bell, figured to be a threat after leading the league in passing last year. But the presence of a consistent running threat makes it even more dangerous.
“It takes a lot of pressure off of our passing game and allows us to use a lot of play-action because teams will put seven guys in the box to stop our run game,” Sterling said.
Some might just as soon stop a bowling ball rolling downhill.