Detroit makes automobiles. Hershey makes chocolate. Milwaukee makes a lot of beer. And Hoboken makes running backs.
It’s true. The Mile Square City has produced so many great running backs over the years that to make a list of all of them might fill up these pages alone. Guys like Dwayne Peterson, Tyrell Dortch, Ravon Anderson, Jason Casessa, Ira Guilford, Keeon Walker, Damien and Desmond Bates – just to name a few – have all gained thousands of yards out of the Red Wings’ feared Delaware Wing-T offense and earned All-State and even All-American recognition in the process.
Plain and simple, Hoboken has been the haven for guys who like to carry the ball and run like the wind.
The Red Wings had the latest valedictorian from Running Back University return for his senior year, namely Donte Carter, who merely rushed for 1,200 yards and scored 25 touchdowns last season.
Everyone just assumed that it would be more of the same this year, a little Carter to the right and then a little Carter to the left. Maybe even a dose of Carter up the middle.
However, before the season began, Hoboken head coach Lou Taglieri promised that there would be carries for several of his talented running backs.
“We have a lot more than just three backs,” Taglieri said. “We have a load of backs we can use. Carter is the one who is established, but we have others who have a lot of speed. They’re all pretty good football players and good athletes.”
One of those Red Wing running backs is senior Rahmein Herron.
Herron was a major part of the Hoboken backfield last year, but spent most of the time either blocking for Carter or running misdirection to cause distraction to the opposition.
That role was fine with Herron.
“I have always felt that I had a key part of the team,” Herron said. “Whatever we needed to do to win was fine with me. If someone else got the ball, it never bothered me at all. I felt I was ready to do my job every game.”
However, Herron always fantasized of the day where he could be the premier back.
“I’ve always been a running back,” Herron said. “Anyone who has played running back wants to touch the ball. I always dreamed of having a big game.”
Last Saturday, Herron proved that dreams do come true.
As the Red Wings battled undefeated Lincoln, Herron had the game of his life.
Herron carried the ball only eight times, but he made the most of those carries, rushing for 205 yards and scoring three touchdowns, leading the Red Wings to the crucial 34-14 victory over the Lions, handing Lincoln its first loss of the season and pushing the Red Wings’ mark to 4-1 as they continue their march to yet another state playoff berth.
Hoboken has only failed to make the state playoffs once (2009) in the last 20 years. Saturday’s win, headed by Herron, put the Red Wings on the doorstep of making the playoffs again.
For his efforts, Herron has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Herron said that he felt ready for the big game, simply because Lincoln was doing a lot of defensive work trying to key on stopping the explosive Carter.
“It just opened the holes that Donte set for me,” Herron said. “I got some good blocking upfront and I just did my part.”
There was one particular run, where Herron took the ball on a sweep that was designed to go to the right, but he cut it back and went left on his own, taking it for a 54-yard touchdown.
“He has good field vision,” Taglieri said. “He has the ability to cut and change direction. He doesn’t look like the most talented or gifted guy, but he has the ability to run with the ball well. He has good knowledge of the Wing-T offense. Of course, we put a lot on Carter, but we have a lot of good athletes to make plays. Rahmein took advantage of his chances. But he’s been doing everything we ask of him.”
Herron likes being a part of the distinguished family of Red Wing running backs. After all, his older brother, Herman Johnson, had previously played running back for Hoboken a few years ago.
“He set the tone for me a little bit,” Herron said. “I always knew that I could be a running back here, that I felt at home here. But I also felt like I always had to prove myself. Every week, the game would come and I would have to prove myself.”
Taglieri always had faith in Herron.
“We knew he had the talent,” Taglieri said. “It was only a matter of time before he broke out and had a big game. Things just opened up for him against a very good Lincoln team. And he broke loose and ran away from some very quick kids. We have asked him to block a lot during his time here and he was finally rewarded with some big plays.”
Taglieri said that the emergence of Herron as a big-time back only makes the Red Wings more dangerous.
“Now, if you’re going to play us, you have to pick your poison,” Taglieri said. “We have several ways that we can hurt you. If you take away our inside game, we’ll take the outside. It’s a good thing to have.”
Herron knows that he can’t rest on the laurels of just one game.
“I have to go out and prove myself all over again,” Herron said.
But having 200 yards and three touchdowns gives a little credibility, right?
“Well, it doesn’t hurt,” Herron laughed. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.