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W&L’s James is player of the week
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
Malcolm Lewis thought Washington & Lee would use the platoon running back approach this season.
The Eagles’ veteran coach figured senior Marquis James would rush 10 to 12 times per game as he shared the load with Kwame Gray.
James (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) put that idea to rest in the first game of the season when he rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening win over Spotsylvania.
James hasn’t stopped going since. He leads the Fredericksburg area with 972 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
His 259 total yards (171 rushing, 88 receiving) and three touchdowns in the Eagles’ 47–8 Northern Neck District win over Lancaster on Friday have earned him The Free Lance–Star Player of the Week honors.
“He’s just a beautiful runner,” Lewis said. “He’s like a deer when he gets out there. He hits the hole as quick as any back we’ve ever had. He’s got good vision.
“I wasn’t sure about his ability to pull away [from defenders] because I hadn’t seen that, but he’s been pulling away from people this year.”
Lewis said he also wasn’t sure the shifty James was durable enough to be an every-down running back.
He said James was limited to 6–8 carries per game in 2010 as he was often derailed by minor injuries.
But against Lancaster, James played through a thigh bruise.
“My teammates looked at me as a bigger person because I didn’t want to leave the field,” James said. “That showed them I’m willing to go further this year.”
Toughness isn’t the only quality James has improved on this season. He’s become quite the receiver, too.
He caught two of quarterback Josh Fones’ five touchdown passes against Lancaster.
Lewis said James’ 50-yard scoring reception was the typical screen pass usually thrown to running backs. But on a 38-yard catch, James went deep and hauled in Fones’ throw.
“When you have a good corps of receivers, a good running back and a running back that can get in the pass patterns,” Lewis said, “that’s tough for teams to stop.”
Northumberland will get the next chance to attempt to stop the Eagles (5–1, 1–0 Northern Neck) on Friday at Washington & Lee.
James hopes to take another step in proving to himself and his teammates that he is capable of carrying the load.
“I felt like I had something to prove this year because last year I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to,” James said. “So during the offseason, I ran, lifted weights and studied the playbook. I did what I had to do to prepare.”
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526