Silver Lake running back Journey Ericsson would rather run straight through defenders than around them.
“I like to square up to the line,” he said. “I like being physical. It's just an attitude I have.”
Ericsson and quarterback Seyler Monroe, both named Six Man all-state last season, will be the cornerstones of what the Mustangs expect to be another successful team. Silver Creek went 8-2 last year and reached the semifinals, and Monroe said the team's goal is to go undefeated this fall.
Ericsson is only 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, but he uses his strength to get underneath defenders and move them out of the way. That's where being short can come in handy, he says.
His approach worked well enough that he rushed for 1,526 yards last year. As a linebacker and defensive back, he was second on the team in tackles with 77 solo and 23 assisted.
Coach Duane Arntt expects Ericsson to do even better as a junior.
“He has a lot of power in him,” Arntt said. “He's got great speed and quickness.”
He also has an unusual first name. His mom's favorite band was Journey, but he got the name after she journeyed through three days of labor.
Ericsson grew up to be a hard-nosed football player who loves being on the field every minute of every game.
“I like to get the job done instead of leaving it to someone else,” he said.
Monroe also plays both sides of the ball, at QB and defensive back.
The junior would much rather pass than run, and last year he threw for 1,340 yards. He also had eight interceptions on defense.
Monroe has sprouted about three inches to 6-1 over the summer.
“We look for a really breakout year for him at the quarterback position,” Arntt said. “I think it's just a matter of maturity. He's got a great mindset to go with that.”
Monroe got a lot of reps in this summer in a 5-on-5 passing league in Harvard, Neb. He said the league also will improve the team's pass defense.
Other workhorses on the team, Arntt said, include center Austin Woodard, offensive end and defensive back Blake Meyer and tight end and defensive end Zac Petersen.
“I think we'll have a pretty decent team as the year progresses,” Arntt said. “We have to get ready quick, because Arcadia is going to be one of the better teams in six-man. I guess we'll see.”
The Mustangs open against the Huskies Aug. 30 in Bladen, where Silver Lake plays its home games. Elkhorn Valley should also be a challenge.
Arntt likes that his players have such big goals. The seniors last year had gone 1-8 in eight-man competition as juniors and were tired of losing, so they worked hard to change the team's fortunes.
“I think it's rubbed off on this group,” Arntt said. “Everybody is hepped up and ready for football to start. They all have pretty high aspirations for the season.”