Braces shining every time he speaks, Black River running back Andrew Vaughn looks the part of a typical sophomore.
Give the kid the football, however, and manly things happen.
“Andrew Vaughn?” senior fullback/linebacker Austin Jones said. “He’s just something different.”
How different? Try 94 points through five games. Try 1,005 yards from scrimmage. Try an absolutely ridiculous 11.6-yard average every time he touches the rock.
That’s not just different. That’s borderline un-human.
Vaughn may just be figuring out how to drive a car, but he already knows how to drive an offense down the gridiron.
“I just love playing football here,” he said. “There’s great coaches, great teammates to play with. It comes from practice and working hard in the offseason. I came here in the summer working hard, running sprints and lifting. It’s all paying off finally in the season, like Coach (Al Young) said it would.”
The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder is taking his game to new heights after biding his time behind record-breaking running backs Jake O’Connor and Matt Joppeck.
Vaughn eventually worked his way into last year’s starting lineup and battled through an ankle injury most of the season. Through it all, he kept his confidence as the Pirates won their first Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division championship.
Now, the only ones lacking confidence are opposing teams trying to slow him down.
“Man, he’s really, really blossomed as a sophomore,” Young said. “He does things we haven’t had here in a long time — the way he finds the daylight, the way he uses his blockers, his vision, balance, you name it.”
Just ask Western Reserve, Northwestern, Manchester, Lutheran West and Fairview, as each has a story of how No. 23 lit them up.
Against the Rough Riders, Vaughn scored two TDs en route to a 136-yard performance. Against the Huskies, Vaughn nearly matched the feat. Against the Panthers, he caught TD passes of 40 and 43 yards from quarterback Dakota Kuntz, including the game-winner with 4:48 left.
Vaughn has only continued to blow up the stat sheet. He rumbled for 259 yards and three scores against Lutheran West, and Fairview was torched for two TDs on the ground and two through the air as Vaughn compiled the first of what Young hopes are man y 100-100 rushing/receiving games.
To Vaughn, the performance at Manchester’s Jim France Stadium sticks out the most despite him being held to a season-low 41 yards on the ground.
It was a statement game because the Pirates haven’t beaten anyone important since 2003, which happened to be the last time the school made the playoffs.
“Once we knew we could beat them, our morale just boosted up,” Vaughn said. “We’ve really got something here at Black River, and if we keep working, maybe we can go farther than just the regular season.
“We’re just putting it all together on the field. We’re getting more together as a team and all of us are doing our 1/11th.”
In just five games this season, Vaughn has already proven he’s doing more than his 1/11th behind his outstanding all-senior offensive line of Terry Sas, Andrew Henschel, Doug Church, Austin Childs and Marshall Mayhugh.
And whether it’s next to Kuntz in the gun or in the slot, Vaughn and his Black River teammates are proving the Wing-T isn’t dead just yet.
“Every time he does one of those special things you’re like, ‘Holy mackerel, how did he just do that?’” Young said. “You know, he’s just fun to watch.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Black River (5-0, 2-0) vs. Buckeye (1-4, 1-1)
WHAT: Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division opener
WHEN: 7 o’clock
WHERE: Stevenson Field, Sullivan Township