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Football: Pasco's running back battle

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Tue. September 1, 2009 | Izzy Gould | Email

One concern at Pasco was how it would replace 1,000-yard running back Jamall Haynes, who was a huge part of Pasco's run to the Class 3A state semifinals.

Based on Friday's performances, the Pirates have a pair of tailbacks capable of filling the void. In fact, coach Tom McHugh said the race is even and the duo could end up sharing the load with equal playing time. 

Pirates sophomore Jacolby O'Neal (5-6, 135 pounds) and freshman Janarion Grant (5-10, 170) got the bulk of the carries each showing they are worthy of first-team consideration. As they battle for the starting job, it has become clear both will see significant playing time.

"They're different kinds of kids," McHugh said. "Jamal would bang you. These kids just run away from you. ...We're pretty fortunate."

Pirates fullback Clifford Phillips (5-10, 175) had two huge second-half runs showing he could be a third option. And don't forget junior Willie Jackson (5-9, 175), who once was a projected starter, has not touched the field while recovering from a broken leg in the spring.

Jackson had the most experience returning with 19 carries for 57 yards. Phillips and O'Neal combined for 11 carries for 20 yards in 2008.

"We have very good athletes," McHugh said. "We're working on isolating them in different situations. ...The defenses are going to have to do something."

-- IZZY GOULD, Times staff writer

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