Riding rushing attack to playoffs
by Bob Brownne
Nov 01, 2013 | 2698 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Kimball High offense has been in high gear in recent weeks, led by senior Calvin Hightower (from left), junior Rashaad Cooper and seniors Gaige Allen, Damon Jackson and Robert Martinez. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
The Kimball High offense has been in high gear in recent weeks, led by senior Calvin Hightower (from left), junior Rashaad Cooper and seniors Gaige Allen, Damon Jackson and Robert Martinez. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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The Kimball High football team’s offense, anchored by a solid rushing attack, hits its stride in time for the Jaguars to make a run at the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

After going 1-3 in their first four games, Kimball has turned its season around to stand at 4-4 with two games left in the regular season.

The rushing game is at the core of the Jaguar offense. In the past four games the Jaguars averaged 305 yards on the ground alone, up from a 195-yard average over the first four games. That includes 286 yards rushing in a 49-12 loss against league leader Manteca on Oct. 18 and 263 yards on the ground last week in a 35-14 win against Oakdale.

Senior running back Gaige Allen, who accounts for more than half of Kimball’s rushing yardage, averaging 135.6 yards per-game and 10.33 yards per carry, said the team keeps up its intensity in practice and carries that mindset to games.

"We just made some adjustments and learned how to follow our blocks," Allen said.

Senior tackle Calvin Hightower said the offensive line is more explosive.

"Over the last four games we’ve probably fired off a little harder. I felt like we gave it our all against Oakdale and really put everything together," Hightower said.

Senior tackle Robert Martinez said the offensive line’s speed is essential for winning.

"I definitely feel like we’re united as one mind now, and we’re actually working together. You can feel the chemistry," Martinez said.

Coach Charles Spikes said the team is buying into his philosophy that basic offensive strategies, such as Kimball’s wing-T offense, become extraordinary in the hands of competent players.

"We moved the kids into different positions to take advantage of their natural abilities and tendencies, and it finally started clicking," Spikes said. "We found success doing it and you see the results now."

Spikes said junior running back Rashaad Cooper, who averages 51.4 yards per game and 5.14 yards per-carry, has improved his yards after contact.

Cooper said he trusts the plays and the blockers, which led to his best game yet, 85 yards on 13 carries, last week.

"It was senior night and we had a chance to make history, beating Oakdale (for the first time)," Cooper said. "We also needed that game to make playoffs, so there was a lot of intensity."

Junior Dominique Dixon averaged more than 39 rushing yards per-game in the first six games of the season, but hasn’t played since Oct. 11. Spikes said he is suspended from the team because of school-related matters, and may not be back this season.

Senior Damon Jackson doubles as a running back and as quarterback Ben Juarez’s top receiver. He runs for more than 24 yards per-game and averages more than 20 yards per-game as a receiver.

Jackson said the team’s intensity picks up a bit more each week, and the Jaguars treated Oakdale as their most important game.

"This was our last home game, so we had to leave all of our heart on the field," Jackson said.

Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or brownne@tracypress.com.

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