Hornets’ bruising attack relies on precise execution

Rodrick Anderson

Running a split-back veer offense requires many pieces of a puzzle to come together with precision.

Grand Lake has been able to put all pieces in the right places this season to reach the Class 1A state championship game for the first time in program history.

Powering an offense that averages more than 30 points and 300 yards a game is a pair of senior running backs in Eli Fountain and Levi Murrell. The pair have combined for more than 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns in nine games.

“They are both big backs,” said Grand Lake head coach Jeff Wainwright. “To be their size with a lot of speed creates a lot of mismatches in our favor.

“If we are going to have a good game Monday, it is going to be due to those guys and their natural abilities as ball carriers. They will get it done for us.”

At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Murrell gives the Hornets a power run game between the tackles.

“Levi has the capability of breaking tackles with his pad level on the inside,” Wainwright said. “He sees the lanes and takes those 2 yards runs and gets 4 out of them.

“The other night at East Iberville, we had first-and-goal-to-go at the 9. As an offensive play-caller, that is the worst place you can get the ball and needing a touchdown. He was hit at the line of scrimmage and drug the tacklers down to the half-yard line.”

Wainwright said Fountain (6-3, 195), who made a switch from quarterback to running back in Week 5, combines speed and athleticism.

“Eli has great speed,” he said. “He is an electric athlete with the ball. He sees defenders out there and is able to set up his cuts and blocks.

“After the Oberlin game, I talked to him. We had given him the ball 12 times that game whether it was quarterback options or called runs. I just felt like I needed to use him in different aspects of the game whether it be receiver or running back.”

Senior receiver Kyler Little (15 rec., 306 yards, 4 TDs) gives the Hornets a deep threat.

The offensive line averages more than 245 pounds, led by 6-8, 325-pound tackle Bryant Williams and guard Brett King (6-0, 265).

“Our offensive line is really solid,” Wainwright said. “You can’t have a good team without a good offensive line.

“I work with those guys nearly every day under the chutes. They are so smart. To be able to pull off a split-back offense, the linemen have to be on the same page. They have to know who they are turning loose and who they are double-teaming.”Quarterback-turned running back Eli Fountain, above, and backfield mate Levi Murrell have combined for more than 1,500 yards rushing.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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