Calvin Strong has covered a lot of ground — more than a mile's worth of yardage — in the start to his junior season at Omaha North.
He's at 1,960 yards rushing after eight games, with 29 touchdowns. He's had two games with five touchdowns, and he established his season high of 304 yards while playing only the first three quarters.
With at least two games remaining, he is less than 400 yards from the Class A single-season rushing record of 2,355 yards and needs six touchdowns to break the Class A record of 34.
As quick as he is on the field, Strong rushes to give credit to his blockers.
“I owe them a lot,” the 5-foot-8, 172-pounder said. “They're the only reason I'm getting the yards and getting close to the records.”
Four of the six on North's offensive line are juniors, too: tight end DeValon Whitcomb, left tackle Neal Sellers, left guard Michael Decker and right guard Justin Edwards. Center Quentin King and right tackle Adam Steinspring are seniors.
“A nice thing to build on,” North coach Larry Martin said, “and with a junior in the backfield and a junior quarterback (Payton Nelson).”
As a sophomore last year, Strong helped the Vikings to a 10-3 record and their first appearance in the Class A state finals. They lost 17-14 to Millard North — their final regular-season opponent at 7 p.m. Friday at Kinnick Stadium — despite Strong's 157 rushing yards and a touchdown.
His final numbers in 2012 were 224 carries for 1,892 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Martin said Strong is better this year at understanding what the team is trying to accomplish on each play, in his patience in letting the blocks take place and in how he blocks in pass protection.
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Strong said his vision is better and he's smarter in protecting his body against crushing blows.
“His improvement is huge in terms of leadership in the offensive side in the huddle,'' the coach said. “We needed somebody to step up, with all the inexperience we had on offense, in the huddle. When things have gotten tough, he's embraced the role and done a nice job.”
Strong said North has developed strong bonds on the team.
“We're real close to each other. It's hard to get into arguments,'' he said. “It's been easy to become a leader because we all get along. There's a lot of brothers on this team.”
North was undefeated until falling behind 35-10 last week to Bellevue West and ultimately losing 35-30. Martin said the Thunderbirds blitzed more than expected.
“Teams are selling out on the run, changing up their fronts against us,'' Martin said. “Not too many teams have played their base defense against us, and that's not a lot of fun, especially when you have an inexperienced group.”
Strong and Martin said Bellevue West brought more intensity to last week's game than the Vikings. They said there shouldn't be a repeat against Millard North.
“We've been flat coming out the past couple of weeks,'' Martin said. “The other team has played well — that needs to be said. But I've seen that hunger get back into the guys' eyes this week. We're looking forward to a game against a football team that plays the style of football we've embraced around here.”