Taking big strides

Coming off a junior season in which he had 1,854 yards and 22 TDs, Franklin's Scott Noble has improved other aspects of his game

Football

September 27, 2006|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN REPORTER

Franklin's Scott Noble set a goal for himself to be a more complete running back, and just three games into the season, he has more than delivered.

"Just with his ability to stop and make cuts, coaches watching his highlight films are amazed. As far as his work ethic in the weight room, that's tremendous," said his coach, Anthony Burgos.

"Physically, Scott looks like a college freshman or sophomore who is playing his senior year of high school," Burgos said. "With his attitude and his desire to play at the highest levels, I believe Scott's got a great opportunity to earn a Division I scholarship."

FOR THE RECORD - A photo caption in yesterday's Sports section misidentified Franklin High School running back Rashad Blackwell.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Although the chiseled, 6-foot, 200-pound senior is an imposing sight, Noble is easy to miss on the field.

"Scott is a very slippery, elusive running back who is hard to get a good hit on because he has great cut-back abilities," said Catonsville assistant coach Jeff Graves, whose Comets lost, 40-17, to Franklin on Sept. 21. "Once he got into the open field and was one-on-one with our guys, it was pretty much all over. The bottom line is that he can make a normally solid tackler look bad."

Noble's abilities have helped the Indians to a 3-0 record, including 2-0 against Baltimore County's 4A-3A League.

"My idols are LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush and Shaun Alexander - guys I've seen make play after play," said Noble, who can bench-press 315 pounds. "They can catch, they can run, they can use their power game. I want to be known as a versatile player, so they're the guys I try to model my game after."

Last season, Noble had one of his best games when he rushed for 344 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries in a 30-24, double-overtime loss to Catonsville.

Graves got a more recent look at Noble in last week's loss, starting with Noble's first of three touchdowns when he darted, pirouetted and finally dove past a number of defenders during a 13-yard run.

"When we beat them in overtime last year, one of our players caught him from behind three times, but it's clear that Scott's worked on his breakaway speed," Graves said. "Scott's just a lot more agile than he was last year, and honestly, I believe he's the best running back in the county."

Although Noble's numbers - 1,854 yards and 22 touchdowns - were outstanding last season, Burgos said critics thought he was a step too slow. There were also questions about Noble's blocking as well as his tendency to fumble.

"One of the big things was ball protection and becoming a better blocker - those were two of the elements we had to fix," Burgos said of Noble, who attended several camps. "As far as securing the ball tightly, he did some extensive work using the fumble straps, which enable someone to pull on the ball as the ball carrier is trying to move forward."

Another fumble-prevention drill involved Noble running with the ball through a row of defenders who pounded away at his arms, hands, head and legs with heavy, tackling pads.

For his blocking skills, Noble tested himself for hours on the two-man sled and by using an exercise that involves facing one or two blitzing linebackers.

"As a result, Scott's a much better blocker out of the backfield," Burgos said. "Plus, he's in great shape, so we use him as a linebacker on defense, where he adds significantly to our team speed."

Noble proved Burgos' point against the Comets, when he made three of his 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He was also adept at dragging down runners from behind, once sparking a drive that forced Catonsville to settle for a field goal after having a first-and-goal inside the Indians' 10.

Although he has run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, Noble, 17, said more speed will be required at the next level.

"I work on explosion drills all the time, knowing I need more speed," Noble said. "But for right now, it's more about being patient and correctly reading my blocks - waiting for the holes to open and spotting the seams along the line of scrimmage.

"I'm a lot better at reading the blocks, and our linemen know I just need a crease and I can do something with it. Just give me a hole to hit, and I'm gone."

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