Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Tyler Worley hadn’t played running back since the eighth grade.
But after the departure of the graduated Dakota Sutherlin, Durango High School had a hole to fill in the backfield, and Worley figured he’d just try and fill it.
Consider the early returns on that plan a success.
In his last three games, two of them DHS victories, Worley’s rattled off 474 yards and five touchdowns, including last Friday’s 208-yard, four-touchdown performance. As a team, DHS has 460 yards rushing in its last two games.
“That’s just poor coaching. We’ve had him out of position for too long,” DHS head coach Greg Wyatt said with a laugh. “No, he’s really stepped into that role. He’s well-suited to being a running back. He’s got good vision, he’s quick, and he’s strong.
The transition from tight end was a bit of an undertaking, to say the least. Worley had no carries last year while playing mostly at linebacker, where he still makes appearances this year as a junior. He did have four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown at tight end.
This winter, he decided his fortunes might be better in the backfield. Turns out, he was right.
“This last winter after the season was over, we were really thin on running backs, and I had played running back in middle school,” said Worley, son of Crystal Coffey and Noah Worley. “So I decided to just try it out, and I really like it now.”
It’s been a transition for the offensive line, as well. In the new hurry-up offense, Durango’s linemen adopt a two-point stance instead of the more traditional three-point stance. What that does is make plays a bit slower to develop, and Wyatt said Durango’s running backs have free range to read the work of the offensive line and make their cuts accordingly.
“I feel like we’ve been working really hard and been able to get all the cobwebs (out) and perfect on our run play more. ... Once you get used to three-point, it’s kind of hard to get off full speed on the two-point,” said lineman Skyler Dobbs, son of Naomi and Steve Dobbs.
So far, that plan has worked just fine for the Demons (2-2), with Worley and fellow backs such as Lucas Sinnig, Steele Spies and Jalon Malone showing the requisite patience needed.
The ability to let a given play develop is critical to what DHS does in its running game, as well as its short passing game, which saw a marked improvement last week.
“It’s the whole key,” Wyatt said. “What we’re trying to do is create creases and let the running backs find those creases, and they have the freedom to make those cuts.”
They’ll need to continue that offensive push during tonight’s homecoming game at DHS Stadium, particularly on the ground, against a Palisade team ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by The Denver Post.
The Bulldogs have yet to allow more than seven points in a game in four victories, including a 41-6 win over Southwestern League 4A school Grand Junction Central in the season opener.
But if Worley and Co. keep trucking behind an improving offensive line, there’s no reason they can’t buck the trend.
“Getting our guys in the right place at the right time; we’ve just been working really hard in the run game,” Worley said.
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo