At Catonsville High, 2009 graduate Brian Chapman proved he could handle a full workload at running back on the football field even though he's 5 feet 4.
Five years later, Chapman hasn’t grown an inch, but he is using his quickness and 205 pounds to help lead the 6-1 Arbutus Big Red semipro team on offense.
Chapman is the top rusher in the Mason-Dixon League for a team that had four straight home shutouts before beating Carolina, 68-18, on the road Aug. 23. He has never let his size hold him back.
“If anything, my height is an advantage because the defense doesn’t see me until I’m halfway down the field,” Chapman said. “This year, we probably have the best line we’ve ever had.”
"They (opponents) can't find him," said Arbutus head coach Ulander Giles.
When they do, he's hard to bring down.
"Without a doubt, he's got great vision and he's very strong for his size," Giles said. "He's hard to bring down. A lot of guys don't realize that and he drags them three or four more yards."
This is Chapman's fourth season with the Big Red after starting his post-prep career with the Baltimore Pirates.
It was his mother who helped get him back in the program where he started his youth career with the Arbutus Golden Eagles.
“My mom ran into coach Giles on a cruise and he told her that he wanted me to try out,” Chapman said.
Had Giles talked with Catonsville football coach Rich Hambor, he might have recruited him sooner.
In Chapman’s senior year of 2008, he rushed for 1,003 yards on 205 carries and scored 10 touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
“He was not one of those guys who was short and who used that as motivation,” Hambor said. “I never thought he thought of himself as being a little guy. He just always thought he was the best guy out there. He trusted our system and we trusted him.”
That trust was on display when the Comets played on a muddy field at Parkville High.
“We played a game at Parkville in torrential rain and we just had a direct snap to the quarterback, and he played quarterback,” Hambor said. “It was a horrible game. It was just a battle of attrition. We just rugby-ed it up and down the field.”
Catonsville won, 6-0, behind Chapman, who had close to 40 carries. Statistics were hard to compile in those conditions, but they are not what drives Chapman.
“As long as we win, that’s what I hope for,” Chapman said. With regard to his statistics this season, Chapman said, “I haven’t paid attention.”
He often gained yards at Catonsville when there didn't appear to be a place to run.
“I don’t remember him having any negative plays,” Hambor said. “He was always going forward every play. His motor was non-stop. He didn’t have the great speed other guys had, but, if that whistle was not blown, he’s not going down, he’s going to get that extra yard every time.”
Chapman could have more yards rushing than the 536 he has for the Big Red, but during the four-game shutout streak, they outscored opponents, 100-0, and several other backs got work.
In six Mason-Dixon League games, Chapman is the league's leading rusher with 461 yards (7.7 average) on 60 attempts and he has six touchdowns.
When he’s on the sideline, Chapman appreciates the defense that has allowed only one touchdown in five games after a season-opening 28-22 loss to the Northern Neck Rivermen.
“I give them (defense) a lot of credit,” he said.
Chapman and the defense will get another chance against the Rivermen when they return home to Arbutus Middle School on Sept. 13 (7 p.m.).