Ground Force

first_imgFOOTBALL: Two shifty backs and one huge lineman key Redondo’s running game. By Tony Ciniglio STAFF WRITER Imagine going up against Redondo offensive lineman Kyle McManus, a member of Redondo’s 1,000-pound weight club who has as much savvy as he does strength. McManus is a three-year starter who is beginning to draw recruiting interest from Utah, Boise State, Nebraska, Oregon State and Arizona. The 300-pound giant has tremendous strength with a 475-pound squat, a 320-pound bench-press and a 265-pound power-clean. “I like being a lineman. Though you don’t get the praise that the running backs do, it’s nice to know that the team is counting on you and that you have to step up,” McManus said. “Any big hit fires me up, and it’s easy to get excited to block too when you have such an explosive backfield. Watching Hayward or Joe chuck stick defenders or spin off them and break a big run, that’s a great feeling.” Gray and Rubio are both seniors who were All-Bay League as linebackers last season, but they were playing behind running back Nathan Areyan last season and did not get many reps in the backfield. “We’ve had other seniors ahead of us in the backfield, but now it’s our time,” Gray said. “We’ve got to show everyone what we can do.” Though they are both 5-7 and 155 pounds, Gray and Rubio are both quick and have excellent cutback moves. Gray has a 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash and Rubio is at 4.7. Gray and Rubio credit their chemistry together for their success. In fact, Simon uses a backfield with Gray at running back and Rubio at fullback for an effective one-two punch, and they have no problem blocking for each other. “We have played together for six years. We played Pop Warner together,” Rubio said. “We want the other to shine, and we push each other. When he makes a big play, I want to match it and build momentum. If he gets a big hit, I want to get the next big hit.” Gray and Rubio almost simultaneously said the same thing when asked what goes through their heads when they get the ball on a run: “score.” “Every time we get the ball, we have to think like that, even if it’s a short-yardage situation.” Gray said. “It might not happen, but you have to have that mentality. That mentality will take you to the next level. That way you don’t stop once you get the first down.” Rubio said both he and Gray appreciate their linemen, especially McManus. “It’s an advantage for us to run behind him and our other linemen,” Rubio said. “We sometimes bring them food during game films, and we hang out a lot.” Despite taking on perennial power Mission Viejo in the opening game, Redondo was able to move the ball with 217 total yards, paced by Gray and Rubio and a hard-working McManus. Now that the schedule returns to a bit of normalcy, Simon expects his ground force to be even more effective. “Those guys are definitely a major part of the loaf. Though it’s not all the bread we have, we’d be at a loss without them,” Simon said. “They’re good role models, and we’re fortunate to have them in our program.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! As McManus pushes opposing linemen back on their heels, running back Hayward Gray, or maybe running back Joe Rubio, bursts through the hole McManus just created en route to another big play. This 6-foot-1 lineman and these two shifty 5-7 running backs form Redondo’s ground force, and the Sea Hawks are going to need a big game from their rushing attack if they are going to stop a four-game losing streak to visiting St. Paul tonight at 7. “It’s two little backs and a great big lineman – McManus can almost hold each one in the palm of his hand,” Redondo coach Gene Simon quipped. “McManus is definitely our rock. Everyone kind of leans on him for experience and someone they can look up to. He’s a pretty good run-blocker straight ahead and a good pass blocker, and he’s kind of the quarterback of the line. “I wouldn’t say that we’ve been spoiled with our running backs, but we’ve had our share of various sizes in the backfield. Our two best guys this year just happen to be pint-sized, but they play big. They’re strong, elusive, quick and they’re pretty powerful.” last_img

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