GEISMAR - Dutchtown senior running backs Eddie Lacy and Kelvin York have been in the spotlight since they were sophomores and this season will be no different. When you are that good, everybody knows your name.
“We are OK at running back,” Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. “Without a doubt, I don’t think there is anybody in the state that has two running backs like that. We are blessed there. You pinch yourselves sometimes because Eddie and Kelvin are special.”
Special they are. In just two years, Lacy has rushed for 3,017 career yards, gaining 1,858 last season and scoring 26 touchdowns while garnering every individual honor imaginable. York has 2,177 yards with 1,194 yards and 12 touchdowns in his sophomore breakout year.
This all as the two shadowing backs have split carries.
“Separate they are special. Together they are super special,” Saia said. “I have been doing this for 23 years. I have had good players but they are two of the best. Once in a lifetime.”
Lacy and York mirror each other. One wears No. 32 and the other wears No. 33. Their size, 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds and 6 foot, 235 pounds often have first-time viewers wondering which is which. But over time their distinctively different running styles and Lacy’s long hair braids that reveal themselves out of his helmet let you know who is toting the ball.
And now, after dividing carries, the duo are expected to be on the field at the same time this season as York will line up in the fullback position.
“The thing that I have really been impressed with this year is we have always alternated them,” Saia said. “Well we are playing them together ,in the backfield and they have really blocked for each other and did what we have asked them to do. I think if they continue to do that they will give some defenses some fits. Who do you key on? I am real pleased where we are with them right now as far as integrating them into the offense.”
Saia recalls Lacy’s run against Catholic last season in the Class 5A regionals where he literally had eight tacklers take a shot at him and still broke away for the Griffins’ only touchdown in the 9-7 victory.
“That is the best run I have ever seen in high school football,” Saia said. “He has got power. He has got great speed. He has got great hands. He has got great vision. He is the total package.”
Saia said what impresses him about York his is resiliency to come back from a hamstring pull that hindered his production last season.
“I am really encouraged with the camp Kelvin is having,” Saia said. “He is a power back and he a 230-pound power back. He was banged up last year and didn’t put up the numbers he did the year before but he is really doing well right now.”
Lacy and York are two of more than 25 seniors on a team of more than 80 that must replace six starters on offense and eight on defense from a team that finished 8-5 a year ago and went further into the playoffs than ever before in the program’s seven years before losing to Westgate in the quarterfinals.
“We have had some success,” Saia said. “We have had good kids and good coaches. We haven’t accomplished what we want to accomplish. We want to win a state championship. I think we earned some respect around the state with some of the success that we have had and obviously we are still hungry. We want a lot more.”
And Lacy and York may just give the Griffins that in their final season.
Lacy is rated the No. 8 running back in the country and the No. 66 player overall by Rivals.com, a college recruiting Web site. York is the 182nd rated running back by Scout.com. And, that is why Saia is getting letters with elephants and bulldogs on them almost everyday.
“That is the stack right there,” Saia said before flipping through them. “Everyday. Anybody you can think of. But I don’t want them worried about college right now. I want them worried about high school. If they have the kind of year they are capable of, college will take care of itself. We just have to find ways to put them in position to be successful.”
Lacy’s list includes Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Iowa, LSU, Ole Miss, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Purdue, TCU, Tennessee and others. York’s interests include Arkansas, Grambling State, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and USC.
“Academically, we have mapped a plan out for both of them and obviously they have to work at it just like they do in football,” Saia said. “They are going to have to go home and do their homework and study, but we have a plan and if they follow the plan, they both have a chance.”
Lacy and York have taken all the attention in stride.
“It’s cool,” Lacy said. “I don’t get a big head approach knowing that I’m getting offers from everywhere in the country. I just look at it as another opportunity to play football on a different level and see if I can bring what I know to that level and prosper like I am now.”
York sees the attention as an opportunity.
“It feels good, but football to me is just a way to get to college,” York said.
Both are happy the tables have turned in Dutchtown’s favor over the last few years.
“Dutchtown used to be the laughing stock when we played St. Amant and East Ascension and now we are on top and nobody can take that away from us,” York said. “The community is behind us and we are just ready to go. Ready to play.”
“When I came here, I heard stories how when Dutchtown first opened, they didn’t have all the things that they have now,” Lacy added. “Other teams would run over us, but now the shoe is on the other foot. We are the best school in this area and we are laughing at the other teams.”
York said his hamstring feels right and he is ready to go.
“When I am running with the ball, it is just like I can’t be stopped,” York said. “I get that mindset. I am just unstoppable.”
But Lacy has had more difficult adjustments it his life. Growing up in Gretna, his home and life seemed to wash away in Hurricane Katrina’s flood. After attending Helen Cox during his freshmen season, he transferred to Dutchtown.
“I have been here for three years and I am still trying to get over that part of my life,” Lacy said.
“That is where I really wanted to be. That is where I grew up but things happen for a reason. I just look at it as God moved me here so I can prosper in football. I am getting more exposure up here than I was down there. I just look at it as a good thing, but you can never forget your past, either.”
A past that developed his signature spin move that has left defenders in the dust time and time again.
“I have been doing that since I was little,” Lacy said. “I am not a contact person, so I try to avoid hits as much as possible. That was part of my moves and it worked. It is basically instincts. I don’t really think about it. Over the years I have grown to love the sport. Everybody in my family played football so I was kind of like following them.”
Both Lacy and York know that they can’t do it alone and are expecting inexperienced teammates to step up this season.
“Everybody is going to have to come together and play as a team,” York said. “We are going to do good. I am ready. I am pumped about it. I can’t wait for the jamboree. Just take it week by week.”
“Everybody is going to have to step up and play their part,” Lacy said. “Our offensive line was big last year and it is not that big this year. We are just going to have to step up and have an attitude about yourself. Play your part and everybody is going to be all right.
“It is great to play on Friday nights because it is dark. The lights are out. Thousands of fans are screaming. I just take it one play at a time and whatever happens, happens.”