Eastern Tech's McCullough has a powerful presence


Jim Salters was aware of Ira McCullough's power, but it wasn't until the Eastern Tech football coach saw his senior running back in slow motion that he realized what a true powerhouse McCullough really is.

Salters and his coaching staff recently were admiring the films of the Mavericks' 36-6 win over Dulaney when the veteran head coach asked one of his assistants to play back one of McCullough's 24 carries.

"I said, 'Check this out,' " Salters explained. "We watched the play again. I said, 'Run it back one more time and slow it down.' Then we started counting the red jerseys, 'One, two, three, four, five, six.' It took the weight of six guys to finally bring him down. He's a load."

Get a load of what the 6-foot-1, 210-pound back has done.

In his first six games -- four wins and two losses -- McCullough has rushed for 682 yards and six touchdowns on 92 carries, giving him a 7.4 yards-per-carry average.

In the Dulaney game alone, he ran for 273 yards and four touchdowns, eclipsing his school's single-game rushing record of 241 yards set by Daryl Ray in 1991.

"He's got a lot of power in those big legs and he can punish you," said Salters. "He can be a little intimidating to those 170-pound defensive backs. Running backs usually take a lot of punishment and he takes his share, but he also gives some back. He runs like a coach likes to see a running back run and he gets stronger as the game goes on."

What McCullough lacks in speed (he runs the 40-yard -- in 4.9 seconds) he more than makes up for with his strength.

Countless hours in the weight room have enabled him to bench-press 275 pounds and squat in excess of 400, but more importantly, his strength provides him with the ability of creating a hole when one isn't available.

"I just go straight ahead and if someone gets it my way, they get knocked over," said McCullough, one of the Mavericks' tri-captains.

"Sometimes I try to go around people and try to beat them with the little bit of speed I have, but if I don't have enough room to go around, then I try to go through them."

When he's not inflicting pain out of the backfield, McCullough can be found doing it from his inside linebacker position where he leads the team in tackles with 40 solo stops.

"He fills the hole very well," said Salters.

"He's quick and he can step up fast so we send him a lot. He very rarely gets blocked."

When he isn't operating out of the tailback position in Eastern Tech's slot-I offense, he's at fullback, clearing the way for the Mavericks' 5-6, 140-pound junior tailback Dwan Jones.

Or, he can be found snapping the ball on punts and kicks.

"He can do it all and he does it all, but what's nice about him is that he doesn't boast or brag," said Salters. "A lot of players nowadays will get cocky if they have their starting position locked up, but Ira doesn't coast and he's not one to rest on his laurels."

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