IMPERIAL — Royce Freeman shouldn’t be able to be as fast nor nimble as he is. A guy his size simply shouldn’t be able to do the things he does.
Yet there was the Imperial High senior dodging, spinning, sidestepping, and running his way to five touchdowns and 322 yards here Friday night in a 42-21 win over visiting Sweetwater High of National City.
“It felt great,” the fullback-sized tailback said. “Just to come out here and run like I did, that’s to the (offensive) line’s credit opening up holes to the secondary.”
Imperial’s offensive line was all over the Red Devils’ defense. Running out of various formations designed for misdirection, Imperial Tigers quarterback Chris Carter had a great running game for his position, carrying the ball eight times for 74 yards.
“I think we did real good,” the senior signal caller said. “My offensive line gave me the opportunity to get all those yards.”
Carter and Freeman carried the vast majority of Imperial’s 406 total yards in what was a foot-for-foot ground game mosh pit between the two opponents.
“We were really strong and played hard and physical,” senior right guard and fellow captain Evan Pumphrey said. “We mastered their defense today.
“Our goal for every game is to be physical every down and to be focused,” he said.
The Tigers’ offense certainly seemed focused on scoring points Friday night, often doing so too quickly for the defense to really catch its breath.
Three such plays included Freeman’s touchdown runs of 94, 60, and 25 yards, each of which were just the second plays in their respective drives, with the latter coming off a Victor Cruz fumble recovery.
Imperial’s defense, while giving up three touchdowns, looked impressive against a Sweetwater offense that seemed intent on shoving to ball down the defensive line’s throat on every down.
“We played well defensively,” Tigers coach Kerry Legarra said. “When all they do is run, run, run, that wears you down and our kids still played physically.”
Imperial did give up 300 total rushing yards on the night, 59 of which came on touchdown run by Antonio Garcia.
Yet no single Red Devil reached 70 yards, with misdirection being the key to Sweetwater’s few successes.
Such a hard-hitting ground game will change to a very vertical one next week, when Imperial (3-0) visits Mater Dei High of Chula Vista.
“It’s all throwing next week, so some of these kids are going to start having to step up,” Legarra said.
“Next week, it’s going to be a tougher game,” Carter agreed. “We need to pick up the tempo and execute on both sides of the ball.”
Legarra, Carter and Freeman all want to see senior wide receiver Dajon Staton get more chances to showcase his skills.
A 37-yard touchdown pass was brought back because of a holding penalty, and Staton’s best game came last week during a shortened match with Yuma High.
“Last year, we did outstanding against Mater Dei,” Freeman said. “The key will be to focus on their passing.
“We just need to try and put up as many points as we can, and getting Dajon more involved will help do that,” he said.
Imperial plays at 7 p.m. Friday. The game can be heard live online at www.krop.info.