Enochs High’s Aiden Muhammad can name all of his offensive linemen upon request. And he does it with a smile from ear to ear.
Center Mitchell Owens, right tackle Joshua Sharp, Chris Eccleston at left guard, right guard Luke Giannotta and Masen Nies.
One by one. Name and position. He could probably name each one’s pregame routine if asked.
“I can’t do anything I do without my O-line. My mindset is to just trust my O-line to do the job and I’m going to be right there with them,” Muhammad said.
The Eagles senior running back worked flawlessly with his five lead blockers Friday night in a 54-8 blowout of visiting Buhach Colony (0-3) at Gregori’s Lanphear Stadium. The linemen created holes so big Muhammad could have walked into touchdowns.
Muhammad returned primed for a big season after leading the team in rushing yards as a junior and has not disappointed. Friday night was his latest spectacular effort. He ran for 207 yards and a single-game career-high five touchdowns.
Muhammad’s first touch went for six. He took a handoff from third-string quarterback Jakob “Slim” Hilterbrand, navigated through the Thunder defensive line, aided by his offensive line, for the game’s first touchdown. His fifth touchdown came on his first touch of the second half. He bounced off would-be tacklers and sprinted up the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. The Eagles (2-1) never trailed.
“He’s a special player,” said Enochs head coach Tracey Traub. “He’s going to get his yards, he’s going to work, but the team did a great job opening up holes and he’s seeing cutback lanes like never before. When he breaks it into that cutback, he’s got the speed and the power to keep going.”
From third string to star for Enochs
If there were any nerves for Hilterbrand, the third-string quarterback making his first start of the season, they did not show.
The senior hit Brennan Whitten Jr. on his first pass attempt for an 11-yard gain and the Enochs offense was off and running. Hilterbrand was thrust into the starting lineup after Micah Rapier was injured last week.
“He just plays with guts and confidence,” Traub said. “He’s got the heart and he’s got the confidence to make throws. The team bought into that and rallied around him and you saw the efforts that they made.”
The Eagles’ offense did not change much, scoring all of its touchdowns on the ground. When Hilterbrand threw, he connected with receivers on quick slants and bubble screens.
“We worked on passing game more and getting him comfortable in our quick screens,” Traub said. “A lot of reps of getting him good reads and he made some of those screens that went for great receptions for us.
“He has no fear, man.”
Said Hilterbrand: “We knew what we were going to do, we came out here and executed.”
Eagles defense bounces back
The Eagles forced a fumble on Buhach Colony’s first play, set themselves up with good field position with a blocked punt to end the Thunder’s second drive, and on the Thunder’s next two drives scored a rushing touchdown in one play and forced punts. Enochs did not allow a first down until the second quarter in what proved to be an important bounce-back game after a tough loss last week to Liberty of Brentwood.
“You play a team like Liberty who’s at that next level and you start questioning yourself,” Traub said. “This week, we talked about staying focused and execution and that’s what we saw tonight. … You come out of that (Liberty) game and you just say that’s not our season. That’s one game. These guys did a great job of responding.”
Enochs is getting healthier by the week. Despite losing Rapier last week, a pair of targets on the outside in Kaedon Kopp and Whitten are finding their footing in the offense.
Buhach Colony scored its only touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 62-yard pass. Quarterback Patrick Curran then converted the 2-point try. The Eagles have only allowed eight points in their two wins.
“Our defense is doing a heck of a job,” Traub said. “ I’m really impressed with our guys that are playing as a team. We’ve got some star power but they’re playing as a team. That is what is going to take us deeper into this season. … The guys are doing a great job of meshing.”