There is little glory in being one of the running backs in East Bay's triple-option wishbone offense. There are never enough carries to go around. Every night there could be a different hero according to the script written, depending on how sophomore quarterback Fred Porter reads the defense. In last Friday night's 51-25 season-opening win over Riverview, it was senior fullback Chaz Burrows who carried the load, running for 262 yards on just 15 carries — all between the tackles — and three touchdowns.
"I wasn't surprised," Burrows said. "That's our offense. Somebody's going to be hot. If they take me away, the running backs and the quarterbacks are destined to get hot. It's just how the night worked out."
Burrows entered this season as one of the county's most underrated talents. And at 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, he might be undersized but he's the perfect fit for his spot in East Bay's offense, where it is important to have a player who runs hard between the tackles.
"He can stop on a dime," coach Brian Thornton said. "He can make you fall down because he has such great feet. He has great balance and great acceleration."
Last Friday night, Burrows broke the 2,000-yard mark for his career after rushing for more than 900 yards in each of the past two years. He did so by breaking off long runs and consistently breaking through into the Sharks' secondary — averaging 17.5 yards a carry.
He hopes to build on that mark in tonight's home opener against Durant.
"We're running the wishbone and other teams have these feature backs where ours is more team-oriented," Burrows said. "We don't have one guy who gets 20-plus carries a night. It can be frustrating at times, but I work hard and try to get noticed, but I know I'm under the radar. Hopefully, this will be my breakout year."
Inside the wishbone
The run-oriented Indians are the county's only team that still runs a triple-option offense through a wishbone formation. Once extremely popular in the college game, the wishbone has disappeared from most playbooks as defenses have become quicker.
"The fact that we're the only team that still runs it probably helps us in the long run," Thornton said.
In East Bay's wishbone attack, Burrows is the first option as the dive back — the fullback who sets up behind the quarterback with two running backs flanked behind him.
After the snap, Porter puts the ball into the chest of Burrows as he bursts between the tackles. Depending on how the quarterback reads the defense, he can either hand off to Burrows or pull it back and run across the line with his other two backs in tow.
That's what made Burrows' 262-yard, three-touchdown season debut most impressive.
"Those were all read plays," Thornton said. "I didn't call Chaz's number once all night."
Burrows knows he's undersized. He has worked hard to build on the 5-foot-5, 140-pound frame he had as a freshman.
Since Burrows is short, his game relies on his speed, his powerful legs churning to gain yards. And his biggest improvement has been leg strength; he can squat nearly 500 pounds.
"I'm not going to rush for 200-plus yards every night," Burrows said. "I just want schools to recognize that I'm going to work."
Still, he hasn't garnered much college interest — yet. Florida Atlantic, Duke and Navy have shown interest. Some schools, like Georgia Tech, want to see his tape after the first two games.
His coach is confident Burrows will show this season that he can play at a major D-I program.
"He can be, without a doubt, but it's got to be a coach who isn't hung up on his size," Thornton said. "We use him as a fullback, but he can be a single back or a wing back."