LARGO — Marcel Durham came to Largo three years ago, a cocksure athlete with the firm conviction that the running back position was his for the taking.
But he had to wait. Durham was not about to unseat Dexter McCluster or Brynn Harvey, backs who each broke the county rushing record for yards in a single season (McCluster with 2,490 in 2005; Harvey with 2,581 in '07).
Durham, nonetheless, kept the faith. He bided his time, playing other positions and spelling Harvey a few times last season.
This season, Durham was unleashed and sent out to lead the Packers.
There was pressure. Tons of it. McCluster and Harvey were record-setting backs who helped their team get to the region final.
"I knew I had a tough job, but I was up to it," Durham said.
Durham did not get close to the numbers of his predecessors during the regular season, rushing for just more than 1,000 yards.
But he has turned it on in the playoffs.
In the past two games, Durham has showed a sudden special burst at the line and has left every county back in his dust.
Against Countryside two weeks ago, Durham rushed for 174 yards and five touchdowns. Last week against St. Petersburg, he ran for more than 100 and three scores.
His eight TDs in two playoff games tops the postseason performance of McCluster or Harvey.
"Everything seems to be clicking right now," Durham said. "We're just coming together."
Durham will need another big game against Punta Gorda Charlotte in Friday's Class 5A region final. The Tarpons are averaging more than 30 points per game.
So the Packers will need their running game to chew up the clock and keep Charlotte's offense off the field.
"The running game will be big for us," Largo coach Rick Rodriguez said. "Marcel will be key for us."