Muscling up for more

Easton’s Adams adds strength — and it’s pay­ing off

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Stephen Miller

With a chance to grab the lead role in Easton’s back­field, Nah­jee Adams headed into his off­sea­son train­ing with a plan.

He worked to match the weightlift­ing feats of Easton’s of­fen­sive line­men. He con­cen­trated on adding mus­cle to pre­pare for the pound­ing a fea­ture back en­dures.

Adams is pleased with his progress a month into his ju­nior sea­son. The 15-20 pounds he has gained since his sopho­more sea­son have al­lowed him to han­dle one of the heav­i­est work­loads among EPC South run­ning backs. He heads into Fri­day’s visit from Em­maus (3-1 over­all, 1-1 EPC South)

lead­ing the divi­sion with 927 rush­ing yards while av­er­ag­ing 11.0 yards per carry.

Adams’ pro­duc­tion be­hind a vet­eran of­fen­sive line has keyed a start that leaves Easton (4-0, 2-0) as one of two EPC South un­beat­ens.

“As a team, we’re still work­ing to get to our goal,” Adams said ear­lier this week. “On the prac­tice field, we have to do a lot more work, and on Fri­day nights, we have to come out and play hard-nosed foot­ball, lights out. Our coaches do a re­ally good job of pre­par­ing us for the teams we have in the up­com­ing weeks.

“We’ve just got to ex­e­cute, prac­tice hard, and come out on Fri­day nights to play the way we know how to play.”

With Adams serv­ing as one of its lead­ers, Easton met ev­ery chal­lenge in its open­ing month. The Red Rovers top the EPC South in scor­ing of­fense (46.3 ppg) and scor­ing de­fense (14.0 ppg).

Tougher days loom. Four of Easton’s fi­nal six divi­sion games come against teams that are 3-1 or 4-0. That doesn’t in­clude a Week 9 matchup with Park­land.

Adams wel­comes the chance to play in the spot­light. He is the rare Easton ju­nior voted team cap­tain. He does much of the talk­ing for a lead­er­ship group that fea­tures three of­fen­sive line­men — Pa­trick Shupp, Josh Arias and RJ Gisler — who pre­fer to let their play speak.

Adams’ play has been im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore. He gashed Easton’s best op­po­nent to date Fri­day, run­ning 24 times for 241 yards and four touch­downs in a 44-7 rout of Liberty.

Adams never re­ceived a sim­i­lar work­load as a sopho­more back­ing up Harold Reynolds and Makhi DeSilva. He spent most of his time at slot re­ceiver (26 catches, 320 yards, three touch­downs in 2018) and out­side line­backer/strong safety (43 tack­les, four tack­les for loss, three in­ter­cep­tions).

Adams has re­lin­quished his de­fen­sive du­ties in re­cent weeks. The Red Rovers want him fresh on of­fense to pro­vide ex­plo­sive plays, es­pe­cially with sopho­more quar­ter­back Cole Tran­sue still learn­ing at the var­sity level.

“We worked out three days a week in the sum­mer, and he was im­me­di­ately that No. 1 guy at tail­back for us,” Easton coach Jeff Braido said.

“He’s a hum­ble kid,” Braido added. “It would be easy for a kid with that much abil­ity to have a big ego, and he’s al­most the op­po­site. He’s not shy, that’s for sure. But he’s the type of kid, when he in­ter­acts with adults, he’s got that good hand­shake. He looks you right in the eye. All those good qual­i­ties of be­ing con­fi­dent, he has.”

Af­ter help­ing Easton run away from its first four foes, Adams can’t wait to see what the next few weeks bring. The Red Rovers’ first task is slow­ing Bran­don Camire, the divi­sion’s No. 2 rusher, and an Em­maus of­fense grow­ing in con­fi­dence.

Adams and Easton’s of­fen­sive line will also look to drive holes in an Em­maus de­fense that has limited op­po­nents to 3.7 yards per carry. None of the backs the Green Hor­nets have faced so far com­pare to Adams.

“I’m ex­cited to see how we’ll play as a team and how it will test us,” Adams said. “It’ll test our char­ac­ter, our ded­i­ca­tion. It’ll make us fight when we’re knocked down. The teams we’re about to face, they’re good pro­grams; they’re good foot­ball teams. They’re knowl­edge­able.

“I’m just ex­cited to show what we can do against good teams like that.”

AMY SHORT­ELL/THE MORN­ING CALL

Easton’s Nah­jee Adams (2) runs the ball up the field in a game last sea­son against Park­land.

RICK KINTZEL/THE MORN­ING CALL

Easton cor­ner­back Nah­jee Adams breaks up a pass in­tended for Free­dom wide re­ceiver Ron­tay Dun­bar last sea­son.

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