Prep running back gets expert advice

September 23, 1992|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

No wonder senior Mike Dodd has been virtually unstoppable in his first two games as a running back for the South Carroll Cavaliers.

Dodd has been getting priceless tips from his football idol, John Riggins, over the past several years after meeting the former Redskins great running back at RFK Stadium.

"I try to run like Riggins did," said Dodd. "He told me to keep low, keep my feet pumping and hit the weights. He's my idol. I'm a lot like him on the field. But I'm quiet off the field."

Riggins had a reputation as a free spirit, marching to the beat of a different drummer.

"Like John Riggins, I might do anything on the field," said Dodd. "In our win over Centennial [32-6], I just dropped the ball on the 1-yard line after running 50 yards. The ball just popped out of my hand. We scored on the next play."

Dodd got to meet Riggins because Dodd's father worked for years as an usher at RFK Stadium.

"I was really excited when I met John Riggins, and after that I got to know him and we would talk about running the ball," said Dodd whose powerful 6-foot-3, 237-pound body brings back memories of Riggins.

After a decent performance (25 carries for 60 yards) in a season-opening loss to third-ranked Wilde Lake, Dodd put it all together against Centennial.

Using his surprising speed (4.6 speed in the 40), Dodd broke loose for runs of 48 and 50 yards on the way to 176 yards on 16 carries. He also scored two touchdowns.

"I judge running backs by how many yards they get after the first hit," said South Carroll coach Gene Brown. "On the 48-yard run, he broke four tackles. Mike's a big boy and a quality back, and we've asked him to run the ball 40-some times in two games. Mike is determined. He has set his mind to have a great season."

Dodd is one of the biggest high school running backs in the nation and lines up behind an offensive line that also isn't small.

The South Carroll line averages 235 pounds, two pounds lighter than the man it is blocking for.

Many prep coaches can't afford to have a player of Dodd's size running the ball.

That was the case at South Carroll until this season.

Dodd was primarily a linebacker as a junior, getting to run the ball on only a few occasions.

But now that record-breaking quarterback Joey Goodwin has graduated, the Cavaliers have changed their offensive philosophy. They're lining up and overpowering opponents.

"Our offensive line is tremendous," said Dodd. "We're all having a lot of fun this year. We're a power team and we're looking forward to playing Linganore [defending Central Maryland Conference champs] later in the season because they're also a power team."

Dodd and his teammates are talking about bringing a lot of attention to South Carroll this year, hoping to re-create the 1988 season when the Cavaliers won the state 3A title.

"The whole team is excited," said Dodd. "We look up to Coach Brown. He wants to go out and take it one game at a time. He can really give some great half-time speeches. He brings goose bumps to me sometimes."

And there's more to the Mike Dodd story.

He might never have been given the chance to run the football at South Carroll if it had not been for another Washington Redskins player, Art Monk, and his camp at Western Maryland College.

"Because of my size, I was always a linebacker in little league football and never a runner," said Dodd.

"But when I was out of the eighth grade, one of the coaches at Art Monk's camp asked me to run the ball for his team and he liked what he saw. Joe Foltz, who is our linebackers coach at South Carroll, was at the camp and he told Ken Parker [longtime Cavaliers head coach who is now an assistant to Brown] about me. That at least made them think about me as a runner."

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