Wednesday 13th October 2010

by monke

Nine-man football often gets a bad rap. College coaches tend to overlook 9-man players because of the stigma that comes with playing in the class.

Because there are two less players, the field is more open, which leads to better chances for players to gain more yards and skew how good they might really be.

Sometimes though, you find a 9-man player who may be a little out of place in the class reserved for the smallest of towns. (Stay tuned for a little more on this later in the week when I delve into Harding County in South Dakota and how their little ranch communities have produced some of the best defensive players in the Dakota Athletic Conference.)

On Tuesday night, as I watched him scamper up and down the field, I found myself wondering: “What would Adam Woroniecki do behind an Class AAA offensive line like Dickinson High’s?”

The Richardton-Taylor-Hebron senior running back rushed for a school-record 358 yards and scored four touchdowns on 30 carries as the third-ranked Raiders beat Beach 39-14 to clinch the Region 6 championship and finish the regular season with an 8-0 record.

Woroniecki had his run of the field. He’s the type of player where if he finds a hole, he has the speed to get through it. And if he doesn’t, he’s strong enough to make at least a little something out of nothing.

Beach wasn’t some creampuff either. With a win, the Buccaneers are a good team, albeit a bit young, and would have clinched a share of the Region 6 title along with R-T-H and Mott-Regent. They even held Woroniecki to 14 yards on six carries in the third quarter. … Then, on the Raiders’ first offensive play of the fourth quarter, he found daylight again. Woroniecki busted through a seam and went 82 yards for his third TD of the night.

At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Woroniecki has the size and speed to play at the highest level of football in North Dakota.

Not many seem to notice though. Woroniecki said a couple colleges have been in touch with him, including Dickinson State and the University of Mary. He has also visited Carleton College, an NCAA Division III school in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Usually, players in his position get stronger looks from the D-II and NAIA coaches in the area after both the college and high school seasons are over.

To his credit, the straight-A student isn’t thinking too hard about college football at this point.

“I haven’t tried too hard on my part,” Woroniecki said of pursuing a football scholarship, before adding a laugh and saying “If someone wants me, they can come and get me, I guess.”

He isn’t the only Raider with college football on his mind either. Woroniecki’s lead blocker, Robby Slaughter, said he is very interested in Minnesota State Moorhead, a D-II school in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference that has shown interest in him. Slaughter, a 6-3, 250-pound senior guard, said he plans to visit the Dragons during the Raiders’ playoff bye week. As a MSUM alumnus, I can safely say I wouldn’t mind seeing Slaughter in red, white and black.

It’s easy to see that R-T-H head coach Travis Olson has developed two more college-capable football players in Woroniecki and Slaughter. The latter has the mental tools to be a good college player — that is a direct result of the coaching he has received at R-T-H — but will have to put on some pounds if he hopes to play on the line. Woroniecki, meanwhile, could be in for a position change at the next level. He runs a bit too straight-up to make it as a college tailback. But his speed burst and second gear in the open field, not to mention his size, make him an ideal candidate for a move to wide receiver under the right college coach.

All you can do is hope he finds the right school to take a chance on him so he find success at the next level.

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