If you're a running back, numbers matter. Touches, yards, averages … and, of course, how much you're leading or trailing by in the stats.
For Kecoughtan's Trenton Cannon, it's a weekly ritual. Do your thing, then see how everyone else did.
"I usually hear about it," Cannon said. "'He's 200 yards under you, he's 200 yards on top of you.' So the next game I try to get on top of them and stay on top."
So far, so good. In one of the richest years for rushing talent the Peninsula District has seen, Cannon has a slight lead over Heritage's Khalid Abdullah in the race for 1,000 yards. Cannon has 941, and at his current pace he would crack four digits in the first half of Friday's game against Bethel.
Not that 1,000 was his pre-season goal. He wanted 2,000, which would require a hastened pace. Only one back in PD history, Phoebus' Elan Lewis, has rushed for 2,000 in the regular season.
But the rushing title would be special to Cannon. At the moment, he leads in yards but trails Phoebus' Tony Pittman in per-game average (192-157). Pittman missed the Phantoms' last two games.
"I said before the season began that me and Tony would be the main ones in the Peninsula District," Cannon said. "I guess it's me and Abdullah now. I'm trying to hit 1,000 on Friday. Whatever comes after that comes."
Cannon finished the 2011 regular season with a district-leading 1,159 yards, which Pittman later passed in the postseason. What's particularly amazing about that is that Cannon didn't start a single game. Adrian Pope was the Warriors' starting tailback.
Cannon averaged a district-leading 7.3 yards a carry, a yard and a half more than Pittman.
This year, he's been even better. Kecoughtan hoped to have a more balanced offense, and it has on occasion. But Cannon has been the only consistent factor. He's averaging 7.4 yards per attempt and has been the district's biggest workhorse with 21 carries a game.
"He's gotten a lot stronger the last six months, and that's really helped him out," Kecoughtan coach Alonzo Coley said. "He runs so hard and he's very difficult to bring down. And, of course, he can run right past you."
Unlike last year, when few knew about him until a few weeks in, Cannon is the focal point of every defensive game plan.
"They put more people in the box on defense," he said. "Last game against Woodside, they had a spy on defense for me. Wherever I went, he went."
The Wolverines did a good job of containing Cannon, who was held to 116 yards on 26 carries.
"You know he'll carry the ball, so you try to take him away the best you can," Woodside coach Danny Dodson said. "But that's hard to do because he's very, very fast. When he gets to the edge, he's gone."
It's speed that sets Cannon apart.
"He's a real good running back," Woodside linebacker Tim Flood said. "Real quick and shifty."
Despite rushing for 2,100 yards in 15 varsity games, Cannon still has no recruiting offers. He is generating some buzz. Delaware, Hampton and Concord are among the schools who have expressed interest.
But for now, there's a rushing title to win.
"Two years in a row?" Cannon said. "I'd definitely like that."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun