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Seizing Opportunities

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com
Elijah Fajayan looks for daylight against Hug last Friday night in Reno.
Brad Coman | Nevada Appeal

hen projected starting fullback Seamus Burns went down with an injury, there was no panic around the Carson High football team.

The Senators were fortunate to have junior Elijah Fajayan in reserve, and the first-year varsity player has given Carson quality football through the first five weeks of the season.

Heading into Friday’s road game at Damonte Ranch, Fajayan has gained 310 yards on 51 carries, an average of 6 yards per carry. Not too shabby for a No. 2 guy.

“I think I’ve done pretty well,” Fajayan said before Tuesday’s practice. “When Seamus got hurt it gave me an opportunity to show what I’ve got.”

And, he’s shown plenty. After rough outings against Clayton Valley and McQueen, he has 255 yards in his last three outings, including a 125-yard and two-TD effort against North Valleys and 86 with a score against Hug, both CHS wins.

“The North Valleys game was my best one personally,” Fajayan said. “I got a lot of touches, scored twice and had the first 100-yard game of my career. I also got some good hits on their defensive end. I think I had three pancakes.”

The production isn’t a complete surprise to coach Blair Roman.

“He’s improved immensely,” Roman said. “He’s a good practice player. He works hard everyday. He’s a confident player. He had a tremendous JV season where he was unstoppable. He came to the table with a lot of confidence, and he comes out every day and works hard.

“He has a knack for hitting the hole really fast. His vision as a running back has improved. He is understanding where the blocks are setting up better for him. Understanding the scheme (on offense) helps.”

The key to playing fullback in Carson’s offense is being a good north-south runner. It’s not a finesse position. It is a combination of speed and power, and that’s what Fajayan likes about the position. He likes to run downhill.

“I like to run hard and down the middle,” Fajayan said.

Besides running downhill, the position requires a lot of blocking, and that may be one area where Fajayan needs to continue to get better.

“I think I’m doing a good job (of blocking),” Fajayan said.

“There is still plenty of room to get better, and coaches know that, too.”

“Elijah needs to work on blocking,” Roman said. “He’s not a big guy (175 pounds). He can’t just truck guys like Nevin (Elliott) could last year. He’s going against guys bigger than him.”

The only knock on Fajayan through five games has been ball security. Twice he fumbled in the red zone, once against North Valleys at the 1-yard line and once at the 18 in the 28-27 loss to Spanish Springs.

“After the Spanish Springs game we worked (in practice) on protecting the ball,” Roman said. “I think it helped. He came around against Hug. That was a physical game. He had 12 carries (86 yards) and took care of the ball. A lot of it is experience, a conscious effort and knowing when contact is coming.”

Fajayan said the extra work helped. He said his teammates were supportive after the two mistakes.

“Hug was a physical defense,” Fajayan said.

“They hit pretty hard and all flew to the ball. I really concentrated on holding onto the ball (when I got into traffic).”

Despite a solid performance thus far, Fajayan’s playing time will diminish a bit as Burns works his way back into the lineup on both sides of the ball.

“I think it gives me the luxury of having two good fullbacks,” Roman said. “I feel I have a good 1-2 punch.”

Fajayan, like any other back, wants to tote the ball as often as possible. He knows, however, the position takes a lot of punishment and staying fresh will only help in the long run.

Roman said Wednesday Fajayan will get reps at both fullback and ‘F’ back which is Colby Brown’s spot.

“I think A back is Elijah’s natural position, and as he continues to get better I think he can be a dominant player in this league,” Roman said.