ELNORA — Colton Lengacher is a sight to see in the open field — no defender truly wants a piece of No. 36 on Friday night’s. The 6-1, 242 pound bruising runner leaves wreckage in his path no matter the opponent.
While watching him burst through the offensive line all the way through the secondary, it’s hard to figure out what’s more impressive — the speed or the strength?
The North Daviess senior tailback will play his final regular-season home game tonight at Cougar Valley against Springs Valley, in the final stages of a high school career that stacks up against any one offensive player that has ever worn a Cougar uniform in the Scotty Helms era.
Helms is in his 19th season at North Daviess and has compiled a record of 108-94. Helms has seen plenty of talent walk through the North Daviess locker room, but none that maximized theirs as well as Lengacher.
“He’s obviously spent countless hours in the weight room and a lot of time getting faster,” Helms said. “For the offense that we run and the things that we’re trying to do, he’s probably the best offensive player I’ve coached. With Colton (Lengacher), he mixes those rare tangibles — a lot of times at the high school level you’ll get a kid that’s really fast, but doesn’t work real hard — you’ll get a kid with a lot of talent that doesn’t reach his potential. Then you’ll get a kid with very little or no talent that gets more out of it than what you expected. Colton wraps up the strength, the hard work, the speed, the power, vision a running back needs and the talent to explode. He has all those intangibles — I don’t think we’ve had another player who has possessed them.”
In eight games this season, Lengacher has 2,001 yards and 25 touchdowns on 209 carries. In his career at North Daviess, Lengacher has amassed 5,327 yards on the ground. He has scored 67 touchdowns in his career.
Going into tonight’s game against Springs Valley, he stands a mere 26 yards from breaking the North Daviess career rushing mark set by Ryan Webster in 2009, and 281 yards short of Webster’s single season mark. After starting at linebacker his freshman year, Lengacher’s solid sophomore season as tailback gave him the confidence to see his sights on North Daviess record book.
“After my sophomore year I had 1,000 yards and I was pumped from there,” Lengacher said. “From then on, I just wanted to break the records.”
With all of his exploits off the field, it would be easy for anyone to gain a sizable ego and become selfish, but not Lengacher.
He fully understands the role the offensive line plays in his success and he makes sure the hard working guys up front know his appreciation.
Lengacher often finds time after the game on Friday nights to send text messages to his offensive linemen to thank them for the massive holes they open up for him.
Helms has seen Lengacher grow from a freshman linebacker trying to keep pace with the upperclassmen to one of the best players in the school’s history — the unselfish attitude Lengacher presents is deep rooted in his upbringing.
“The truth is, I think he has a mother that would kick his rear end,” Helms said. “His mother is a very strong lady, she has definitely been the focal point of discipline in his life. I think he’s probably that way, because he doesn’t want to disappoint mom.”
Like most teenagers, Lengacher worries about disappointing his friends and families, but on Friday night’s that can extend to the North Daviess fans, and there was no bigger example than last week’s dramatic win over North Knox.
In a back-and-forth game, the Cougars found themselves trailing by eight points in the final minute. After Lengacher ran for 10 yards to put the ball at the six-yard-line, he had to leave the game with a cramp in his leg. The entire stadium held its breath, but in his absence junior Doug Bays scored a six-yard touchdown and converted the two-point conversion to send the game to overtime.
After scoring on the first play in overtime, Lengacher and the Cougar offense got the ball back down six points in double overtime. After running three plays without finding the end zone, the Cougars faced a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard-line. Lengacher knew it was up to him to seal the victory.
“I was hoping I didn’t cramp again, and I was thinking I have to get this — everybody is counting on me,” Lengacher said.
He found paydirt from a yard out and then pushed through the North Knox defense for the winning conversion in the 35-33 victory.
With a record of 6-2, North Daviess has bounced back from a disappointing 5-7 campaign last season.
Helms says one of the reasons for the turnaround is the leader Lengacher has become as he’s become a man on and off the field. The Cougars will go as far as Lengacher’s legs will take them, but one thing is for sure —he’s going to leave it all out on the field for his teammates and his school.