RUNNING WILD: The Red Raiders’ rushing attack is the team’s identity on offense

Senior RB Dexter Gallishaw (21) of Bellefonte High School runs against the defense of the Clearfield Bison. The Red Raiders defeated the Bison, 62-21. Bellefonte plays Greater Johnstown this weekend in the district championship. (The Express/Tim Weight)

Senior RB Dexter Gallishaw (21) of Bellefonte High School runs against the defense of the Clearfield Bison. The Red Raiders defeated the Bison, 62-21. Bellefonte plays Greater Johnstown this weekend in the district championship. (The Express/Tim Weight)

BELLEFONTE–The Red Raiders are experiencing an abundance of success running the football, and their game appears to elevate as the stakes continue to rise.

Bellefonte ran for a season-high 412 rushing yards against Clearfield last week, which was Bellefonte’s second 400-yard rushing game of the season. In 11 games this year, they’ve amassed 3,219 yards on the ground and 45 touchdowns–numbers not too shabby for a football team whether it’s a youth or professional program.

Their skill players’ athleticism contributes to the success on the ground–but the offensive line’s workmanship is often overlooked.

Bellefonte entered 2017 with a plethora of experience with the team retaining its entire offensive line from a season ago. This led to a developed chemistry amongst the group, as well as less mechanic-breakdowns, which is critical for what Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning would describe as an undersized line.

“They don’t physically dominate,” Manning explained. “We don’t get a ton of movement up front, the kids just really, really execute. And that’s all piggybacked off all of them having starts last year.”

“We’re not big,” Manning continued. “There’s only one guy who weighs over 200 pounds up there, so it’s not a size-thing. But the kids, they use their technique and they work extremely hard and execute the game plan.”

The offensive line has helped paved the way for Bellefonte’s potent-rushing attack.

They averaged 140 rushing yards per game a season ago–that number has more than doubled to 293 rushing yard per game this season. No players have benefited more from the line’s elevated play than Dylan Dietrich, Dexter Gallishaw and CJ Funk–the team’s top three rushers this season.

GROUP LEADER

The Red Raider offense has playmakers up-and-down its roster.

Leading the team in rushing is Dylan Dietrich with 1,420 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. What makes that figure so fascinating is that he’s the team’s starting quarterback. What makes that figure extraordinary is that entering the season, Deitrich wasn’t even on the coach’s radar as a quarterback candidate–given he had never played the position.

“What makes Dylan’s story so interesting is that he wasn’t on the quarterback depth chart, he was a starting receiver for us,” Manning said.

An injury in Week 1 led to Deitrich being inserted into the starting quarterback position. Though Dietrich is a first-timer under center, his experience running the ball in the past benefited him during his smooth transition into a new role.

“Through his junior high years, Dylan was a tailback, so I think running the ball is relatively comfortable for him,” Manning said.

PICK YOUR POISON

Dexter Gallishaw and CJ Funk are the team’s top rushers after Deitrich.

Gallishaw has totaled 737 rushing yards and nine touchdowns this year. The Raiders prefer to use him more in the second half of games– as Manning described Gallishaw as a selfless player who could easily be over 1,000 yards this season if the coaching staff decided to increase his workload.

CJ Funk is third on the team with 412 yards and five touchdowns on the season. He’s averaging nine yards per carry and finding a groove with the jet sweeps. Funk had his best game of the season in the district playoffs last week with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

Two.

That’s the number of times the offense has been held to under “just” 200 rushing yards in a game this year.

Both performances were in the first two weeks of the season–which showcases the progression of the offense over the year.

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