Home > Anthony Nunn fits Sprague’s I to a T | USA Today High School Sports

Anthony Nunn fits Sprague’s I to a T | USA Today High School Sports

Sprague running back Anthony Nunn rushes for one of his five touchdowns Friday against Forest Grove on Friday, Sept. 26, 2015.

Sprague running back Anthony Nunn rushes for one of his five touchdowns Friday against Forest Grove on Friday, Sept. 26, 2015.

Anthony Nunn fits the profile in many ways.

In the power running offense that the Sprague High School football team runs, a running back usually stands out.

In three games this season, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound power running back has rushed for 632 yards and 15 touchdowns on 76 carries, including six touchdowns in each of the past two games for the Olympians (4-0 Greater Valley Conference).

“In a perfect world I do like to line up in the I (formation) as a base and I like to run the ball downhill, and he certainly is a downhill-type runner,” fourth-year Sprague coach Jay Minyard. “He’s not a kid that you really want to try to get the edge with too often, that kind of thing. You want to put the ball in his hands and let him lower his shoulders and get yards for you and grind it out.”

Nunn went from splitting carries as a junior – he rushed for 817 yards and four touchdowns on 118 carries – to the full-ime job this year.

He bulked up by 10 pounds since last season and is capable of running over linebackers, but he has a surprising burst of speed once he reaches the secondary.

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Even after putting up the gaudy numbers early this season, Nunn constantly deflects the credit to his linemen.

“I mean, he doesn’t react like over the top,” junior quarterback Justin Culpepper said. “He just keeps it cool. Cool and clean and just takes it like any other day.”

Sprague has a sizable, experienced offensive line that can make a running back look good.

Senior Jacob Nelson is a three-year starter at center, senior Ryan Morgan at right guard is a three-year starter and senior David Prosser moved from tight end – where he started the past two years – to right tackle.

Minyard said senior two-year starter Bryce Webber emerged as a star at left guard, returning starting junior left tackle Kyle Rosenau has been solid and junior Bryce Perkins filled in well up front when injuries have happened.

“We got such an old front, they’re mostly senior, so they’re doing well,” Culpepper said. “Our younger guys are doing well, too, but the run game and stuff, I mean they’re just blocking it really well, going through it.”

Nunn, though, is playing for the lineman who isn’t there.

“I know that we’re playing more for just ourselves, so we’re playing for one of our fallen lineman that passed away, Slick Rick Nelson,” Nunn said. “We’re all getting really close after what happened. Me personally, I dedicated the season to him so I think we’re all just playing for more than just us.”

When Nunn missed Sprague’s 48-13 win against McKay due to an ankle injury, 5-10, 185-pound junior Dane McKinney rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries and 5-10, 185-pound sophomore Noah Harris rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

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“I think we’re pretty even, to be honest,” Nunn said. “I think he runs just as hard as me. He does track in the offseason and I do baseball so he might be a little faster than me, but he puts in just as much work so I think we’re evenly matched.”

Minyard says that his teams try to have a run-pass balance of 60-40 to 65-35 percent.

There have been years when Minyard’s teams – notably when he was at North Salem and South Albany – ran a Maryland I with two fullbacks lining up directly in front of the tailback.

There have been a few of his teams – notably in 2010 when Ian Silbernagel was the senior quarterback – have run the spread more and been more pass oriented.

“We are scheme-based and personnel-oriented,” Minyard said. “And everyone knows it so I can say it, but we’re going to run power counter schemes and zone schemes. And then one year if we have a tight end and a fullback who we think are pretty studly, we’re to run out of the I.

“If we have four receivers, maybe don’t really have that tight end or fullback type, then we’ll try to spread you out, but it’s still going to be power and counter based schemes up front. That way it’s the same for the guys up front, because really that’s where you win or lose games, tackle to tackle.”

But there is something that has separated Nunn from the rest.

Despite playing in three games, he’s one of the state’s top rushers this season.

Part of that is Nunn’s skill and part of that is how well he fits into the scheme.

“Honestly, a lot of it has to do with the fact that we run an I formation, and when you run the I, someone’s going to dot the I,” Minyard said. “Just like every other position on the field, if you are the clear-cut No. 1 at that position then you are going to get most of the playing time there. We tend to have one guy that usually stands out a little bit above the rest.”

[email protected], (503) 399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler

West Salem at Sprague

When: 7:15 p.m. Friday.

On the air: Radio on KBZY 1490 AM, television on CCTV2 at 11:59 p.m.

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