THere’s a moment in every defensive back’s career, a moment that brings a blend of deep clarity and sheer dread. The star of the opposing team carries the ball. He runs sideways, seeking to get to the edge of all the turmoil involving the linemen on both teams. If he reaches that edge without any major obstacle, he can turn the corner and head up the pitch. The hope is that a linebacker can step in, but if neither are up to the task, it’s up to the DB to make the play.
The ball carrier reaches the rim and cuts up the field, heading due north, with no linebacker in sight. The DB is straight east of the rider and if he is heading in that direction he has finished. So, while he is in the middle of a sprint, he calculates the angle that will allow him to meet the ball carrier somewhere high up the field. The problem is, the DB has to go through the hypotenuse of that triangle while the runner only has to go through one leg of it.
If he gets to the top too late, the DB will just have to chase the ball carrier to the end zone, hoping against all odds that maybe the runner will stumble over a blade of grass or slow down (yeah , that’s right!)… or maybe it’s just a bad dream.
Amphi running back Kiko Trejo has taught geometry to opposing DBs throughout the season. He’s the best rusher in southern Arizona and has several touchdown passes of 70 or more yards this season. He’s one of the main reasons the resurgent Panthers are 9-2 over the past two seasons.
Last year, when Amphi went 4-0 in the pandemic shortened season, Trejo was sometimes a running back, but mostly a blocker for star fullback Isaiah Hill. This year, that’s all Trejo.
He’s run on, around, and through people all season. A few weeks ago, he interrupted goals from 78 and 90 yards against visiting Douglas, but then ended up with a twisted ankle. The following week he ran under 50 yards and the Panthers were upset by Catalina Foothills. This defeat could keep them out of the state playoffs.
He also plays a defensive back, so I asked him what would be less appealing to him: carrying the ball straight to Los Angeles Rams defensive monster Aaron Donald, or trying to take on the freight train carrier. Derrick Henry (famous for rejecting DBs from the NFL).
His response: “I’d rather try to attack Derrick Henry. He is stronger and faster than fast [that makes perfect sense]. I went down low to the legs or ankles and would wrap it up every time. He would never follow me with a juke. No problem.”
The top running backs in Tucson over the past three years are Bijan Robinson (now in Texas and on the Heisman Trophy shortlist), Stevie Rocker (now starting for the Arizona Wildcats) and Kiko Trejo. Not bad company.