Rubbo's game has multiple facets Football: Oakland Mills junior already has crossed 1,000 yards on the season, carrying 30-plus times a game in addition to playing linebacker, punting and running back punts.

October 23, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Opponents know he's coming. But like death and taxes, there's not much they can do to stop him.

Vinnie Rubbo of Oakland Mills has rushed for at least 100 yards in six of seven games despite facing nine-man front lines designed specifically to thwart him.

Oakland Mills rarely passes.

"We've never been so one-dimensional," Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet said. "Other teams can focus on him, and he still gets yardage."

Rubbo, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior, broke the 1,000-yard mark last Saturday against Hammond. He has 1,029 yards, 12 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.

"We've only ever had one other player rush for 1,000 yards both his junior and senior years, and that was Andre Vaughan in 1987," Hovet said. "And Vinnie is still developing. He's quick and an outstanding athlete, but he lacks raw speed, so some people tend to dismiss his ability."

Hovet hopes to talk Rubbo into running indoor track to improve his speed this winter.

What makes Rubbo so dangerous is his ability to avoid tacklers.

"He's elusive," Hovet said. "Tacklers never seem to get a clear shot at him, and he's always falling forward. With him running the ball 30 times a game, we don't have to throw."

Durability is clearly one of Rubbo's extraordinary qualities. Few runners could carry the ball up to 35 times per game, play linebacker, punt and return punts and still remain uninjured.

Despite so many carries and the bruises, scrapes and muscle strains that inevitably result, the 16-year-old Rubbo never shows the least bit of pain or fatigue on the field.

"That's to give me a psychological advantage over the other team," said Rubbo, who admits he takes a lot of ibuprofen after games and during the week between games. Oakland Mills does not hit Rubbo during practice drills to preserve him for Saturdays.

Rubbo, who said he has no personal football goals, already has 167 carries, still 103 away from Korey Singleton's single-season school record -- a record not totally beyond reach. Singleton also set the single-season rushing record of 1,870 yards in 1991.

Rubbo scored five touchdowns against Atholton, and his top yardage day was 203 against River Hill. Hovet was most impressed, however, with the 150 yards against Long Reach's tough defense -- the one that used a nine-man line against the Scorpions.

The only game in which Rubbo failed to reach 100 yards was against unbeaten Wilde Lake; he rushed 10 times for 56 yards.

"We were still playing a wing-T then," Hovet said. "The I [formation] is working much better for us."

One of the keys to Rubbo's success is fullback Gregg Kellett, who at 6-4 and 220 pounds gives Rubbo a nice wall to run behind.

"Kellett is real important," Rubbo said. "He's pretty devastating."

Hovet said: "Kellett is nasty -- a big monster. He's the best fullback out of the ones I that I've seen in Howard County. He doesn't just block people, he pancakes people."

Despite weaknesses in its pass defense and passing offense, Oakland Mills' only losses have been to three ranked teams -- Aberdeen, Wilde Lake and Long Reach.

And the Scorpions still have Class 1A playoff hopes if they can win the remainder of their games, starting Saturday with Class 1A rival Glenelg, which has an identical record.

Rubbo is also an excellent baseball player. He batted .327 with four home runs, two doubles and two triples for the Scorpions last spring. Then he hit .417 with seven home runs, five doubles, one triple and 21 RBIs for the Columbia Reds 15-16 team last summer. That team won several post-season tournaments.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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