Prep football: Lehi’s Calton a monster on the ground
By Anthony Cusumano
Special to The TribuneFirst published Sep 18 2013 08:13PM
Caden Calton’s next rushing attempt as a member of Lehi’s football team very well could help him reach two milestones.
One is pretty common, while the other is truly remarkable.
The junior has rushed for 993 yards on 97 carries with 13 touchdowns through just four games. His averages speak for themselves — 25 attempts per game, 10 yards per carry, 248 yards per game. What matters most is that Lehi is 3-1.
"Doing it with the team has made me push myself to be better," the 5-foot-9, 175-pound workhorse said. "Becoming faster and stronger were two of my goals this offseason. I hit the weight room and did a lot of speed and agility drills."
Calton, 17, rushed for 331 yards in Lehi’s first two games of the season, but he has exploded on the ground over the last two weeks. He has run the ball 71 times for 662 yards and eight touchdowns in victories over Pine View and Westlake.
Calton became the Pioneers’ primary runner when Ryan Absher, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, rolled his ankle in the season opener. Though Absher has returned, Calton remains a key player in the offense.
"Coming into the season, we knew we had three good backs," said Lehi coach David Hastings, referring to Calton, Absher and Derek Hastings. "It worked out that Caden got a few more carries with Ryan’s injury. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, we need him to touch the ball 25 to 30 times per game."
Calton, who is strong enough to run inside and fast enough to break free for a long gain, has become a multipurpose threat. His low center of gravity enables him to hit the holes fast and scoot through before defenders can touch him.
"Being small has its advantages," Calton said. "If you look on film, some of those holes the offensive line opens you can drive trucks through. I’m starting to see the hole a lot better and faster. The team is improving, and that’s making me get a lot better. I play for my teammates and my family, just doing my best."
Calton’s versatility allows him to play in Lehi’s misdirection and power packages on offense. He also figures into the Pioneers’ passing game.
"He’s not a huge player, but he’s very strong," Hastings said. "The advantage he has is we play him on one side of the ball. So far, because of the condition he’s in, he’s handled it very well. He’s always been a downhill runner, being low to the ground. But he can still get 3 to 4 extra yards with his power."
Perhaps more surprising is that Calton was an unknown coming into the season. He gained only 94 yards on 22 carries last year behind Absher and was expected to play a complementary role in the offense.
"I think it’s cool, but I have to keep focused on helping the team out," Calton said about his fast start. "I definitely like to have the ball in my hands running, but whatever I can do to help the team win."
Colleges have begun taking notice of Calton, who has received letters from the University of Arizona and UNLV. With plenty of time to rack up another 1,000 yards, Calton still has a ways to go to break the all-time single-season rushing record. Kelly Smith of Beaver holds the record with 2,561 yards rushing in 1979.