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HUDSON — Chris Taylor has seen his share of 1,000-yard running backs.
Usually right in his own backfield.
The Fivay coach has had record setters and record breakers, from Byronell Arline to Sterling Ross (when he was coaching at Ridgewood), to his latest, Davion Sutton.
And while Sutton, a junior, looks at his numbers — a couple of 200-yard games, a few games with four touchdowns, more than 6 yards a carry — and likes what he sees, being a 1,000-yard rusher only reminds him of what he isn’t.
“Yeah, 1,000 is nice,” he said, “but I’d really like to get 2,000.”
At times this season, running behind a seasoned offensive line with five senior blockers, Sutton has looked like the kind of kid who someday will reach that milestone.
In one three-game midseason stretch, he averaged 212 yards and three touchdowns a game, and didn’t even play an entire four quarters.
In three other games, he has rushed for more than 100 yards.
But against 6A-6 district champion Springstead, a game in which he says he was sick, he had 41, and against Pasco — ranked No. 2
in the state in Class 5A — he ran for 80.
“Those games make me want to run harder and make up for the times I messed up,” said Sutton, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound mix of power and shiftiness.
Has been one of the area’s biggest surprises this season.
A youth league standout in south St. Petersburg playing on teams with the likes of current college prospects Donterrio Fowler, Tracy Johnson, Maurice Hall and Demondre Lambert, Sutton was expected to move on to similar success in high school.
And move on he did.
After his eighth-grade year at Tyrone Middle School, his father, Harold, decided to relocate the family north.
“Why Hudson? That’s what I asked my dad, too,” Sutton said with a chuckle.
Why? Somewhere safer, where there was less trouble to get into, Harold Sutton said, and somewhere cheaper, where a home loan could buy more square footage.
Sutton, who sports a 3.1 grade-point average, says there’s “nothing you have to really worry about getting into up here,” but he misses his old teammates.
At practice Tuesday, which he sat out with a sore oblique muscle, he was proudly wearing his No. 22 jersey from his Northeast Bandit days.
Sutton has had an exceptional season, but is still finding his way.
“He’s always been a north-south runner,” his dad said. “He watches some of these dynamic backs on TV, and I try to tell him, that’s not your style. But he has instincts, to try and make people miss him. I get on him a lot, tell him to be the one to deliver the blow, and the next time the guy will try to arm tackle. Soften the other guys up, then make your moves. He’s learning.”
Taylor thinks Sutton, if he can improve his speed, can be a Division I-A back.
He said his leading rusher lives in the weight room and has turned himself into an I-formation, one-cut downhill runner.
“Power,” Sutton said, “is what I’m built for.”
“He’s a little short, sticky power runner with an uncanny ability to shift. And he has a great nose inside the 10-yard line.”
If Sutton is serious about getting to 2,000 yards, he’s in the right place. Taylor has had backs similar to Sutton and guided them to success.
In every season Taylor has coached a varsity team, he has had a 1,000-yard rusher, with one exception: in his first season in 2004, his top returning running back, Mike Galizia, who had led the county the year before, missed four games.
Since that first season, Taylor has coached Pasco County’s all-time leading rusher (Arline) to two 1,000-yard seasons and a county-record 2,188 yards in 2007.
Ross, Cameron Rodriguez and Kyrie Rodriguez (last season for Fivay) have had 1,000-yard seasons since.
“I’m an old offensive lineman,” Taylor said. “I know the importance of a good running game, and we spend a lot of time on it.
Sutton, who has 1,137 yards, has joined the group.
His goal now is to eclipse it.
John C. Cotey can be reached at email@example.com