It is a head-scratcher for Kirk Stevens.
The third-year football coach at Black Hills High School hears it all the time about his offense — first down, he passes; second down, he throws longer; and surely on third down, he throws for the end zone.
That seems to be the common misconception about teams that employ the spread offense. Yeah, Stevens’ squads are not shy about slinging the football around the lot, but they also can run the football.
“By nature, we try and be balanced,” Stevens said. “Last year, we rushed and passed for nearly 2,000 yards.”
And this season, even with quarterback Christian Williams returning, the offense is loaded at running back with a pair of performers who are set to do different things:
Senior Conner Furu has no problems running downhill right at you.
Sophomore Jaden Toussaint will run right by you.
“If we stay healthy, we should give defenses a lot of trouble,” Furu said.
At 6-foot, 205 pounds, Furu is the backfield mainstay. He rushed for 867 yards and 11 touchdowns last year before suffering a season-ending injury in the final regular-season game against Centralia.
With seconds to go in the first half, Furu — fighting for more yardage — was hit from behind and sent to the turf.
“I knew we were trying to score, so I tried getting as many yards as possible because we had one timeout left,” Furu said. “A guy came up from behind and put all of his pressure on me.”
It wasn’t discovered until days later that Furu had broken his collarbone, ending his season as the Wolves headed for the Class 2A playoffs.
“It killed me, because I am old for my grade, and had been playing with the seniors my whole life,” Furu said. “I worked harder this offseason than I have any other offseason. I am pretty motivated.”
And he will have company — very fast company at that.
Last season, Toussaint became the first non-quarterback ninth grader to start on a Bill Beattie-coached offense at Olympia High School in 21 seasons.
Mainly utilized as a change-of-pace running back on the fly sweep, Toussaint gained 400 yards on 39 carries, scoring six touchdowns during the regular season.
“His speed was just so outstanding, and … it opened up doors for Scott (Gunther) on the inside,” Beattie said. “(Toussaint) didn’t have to think too much. He is a heck of a running back with good instincts.”
But by spring quarter, Toussaint was enrolled at Black Hills. He admits he had “out of football” issues, and needed a fresh start somewhere else.
“I felt like this was a good place,” Toussaint said. “I have some family members over here with cousin Taylor Simmons (also a running back on the team). I just wanted a restart.”
Furu began hearing news about a talented transfer. So he went to a track meet to check him out.
“Right when I saw him, I was like, ‘He doesn’t run, he glides.’ I am not saying I am slow, but that is not my running style — a straight-ahead spring guy,” Furu said. “But with his straightaway speed, and elusiveness, and then I can be mixed in as the power every-down back, it is going to be a pretty impressive tandem.”
Unlike his one season at Olympia, Toussaint figures to play in more of a traditional running back role.
That is why he gained 30 pounds since last season, and is up to 185 pounds. And he hasn’t lost any of his 11.2-second speed in the 100 meters.
“(The weight) should help for impact and being hit,” Toussaint said. “I feel pretty confident.”
Stevens envisions Furu taking on a slightly bigger workload than his counterpart — but the disparity won’t be as big as people think.
“It should be pretty balanced,” Stevens said. “(Toussaint) has got more skill than just running on the outside, and Conner also has good speed, but he is 205 pounds.”
BLACK HILLS WOLVES TEAM CAPSULE
REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
All games at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Home games at Tumwater District Stadium; road games at the campus of the opposing high school, unless otherwise noted.
Sept. 2: Timberline at Black Hills
Sept. 9: Black Hills at Capital, at Ingersoll Stadium
Sept. 16: Prairie at Black Hills
Sept. 23: Black Hills at Evergreen (Vancouver), at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30: *Black Hills at Centralia
Oct. 7: *Aberdeen at Black Hills
Oct. 14: *Black Hills at W.F. West
Oct. 21: *Black Hills at Tumwater
Oct. 28: *Rochester at Black Hills
*2A Evergreen Conference game