Every Saturday this year, dark clouds have hovered over as the Griffons take the football field.Â The displays of thunder and lighting can be seen by watching the Missouri Western running game.Â The talented two-some of Thomas Hodges and Laâ€™Darrian Page at running back have been more deserving of nickname better than the clichÃ© â€œThunder and Lightingâ€ though.Â Forecasts have been calling for a St. Joseph Squall.
The recent success of the Griffon football squad can be credited to the running game of an already potent offense.Â With a dominant offensive line and the freshman one-two punch of running backs Thomas Hodges and Laâ€™Darrian Page, the Griffon rushing attack has helped Missouri Western finish 8-3 in the regular season.Â Although the playoffs are not a possibility, the Griffons have had a pretty successful year.Â A trip to the Mineral Water Bowl is now on the horizon.
This season, the two have combined for over 1,800 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns.Â Page and Hodges have worked together to become a duo that teams in the MIAA have had a hard time stopping.Â Two running back offenses have become a regular thing in football these days.Â It is now almost a necessity because the game has developed into such a physical sport, constantly wearing down running backs.Â Missouri Westernâ€™s team is no exception, and is working to their advantage.Â Head coach Jerry Partridge appreciates his running game.
â€œTheyâ€™re both very effective and itâ€™s great to have them,â€ Partridge said.
Hodges is considered the more bruising, powerful back of the two, bringing the thunder.Â Page brings quickness and speed delivering the lightning strike of the offense.Â Although the two backs have contrasting running styles, but they both work together to make a very valuable rushing attack.Â
Â There is no other way to describe Laâ€™Darrian Page on the football field other than a playmaker.Â Every time he touches the ball there is a chance that the crowd will see another Griffon touchdown.
Â â€œIf I can get past the linebackers I think I can score,â€ Page said.
Â Â Â Pageâ€™s favorite NFL running back ever is Barry Sanders and you can see glimpses of that in his own explosive play.Â With a 5-8, 160 lb. frame, Page may seem small, but he plays with the heart of a lion.Â Offensive lineman Roger Allen recently dubbed LP â€œLilâ€™ Spiderman.â€Â Pageâ€™s quickness and agility like Spiderman make it no easy task to bring him down.Â
Hodges said he would rather be the X-Menâ€™s Juggernaut though.Â When you watch Thomas Hodges run the football you notice two things at first, strength and determination.Â As you watch more, you will discover that powerful running style of the 5-10, 220 lb. freshman is complimented by exceptional speed.Â His favorite running back is Walter Payton, who immortalized the number 34 jersey that Hodges wears every Saturday.Â Hodges runs with the same intensity that Payton brought to the game, always fighting for every yard.Â Hodges doesnâ€™t always make the big play, but he is effective and always gets the job done.
â€œI always try to get up field and get as much as I can,â€ Hodges said.
The two running back system helps keep both running backs fresh and provides other opportunities as well.Â Having the luxury of two good running backs, especially with contrasting styles such as these, opens things up in the offense.Â Page has the ability to get to outside and split the defense which give Hodges more of a chance to get yards up the middle.Â Hodges hammers around inside for awhile and teams put more players in the box, this frees up Page to make a play outside.
Another difference in the two running backs is their personality.Â Page is laid back, cool and soft-spoken.Â Hodges has an outgoing, crazy and comical personality.
For Halloween this year, Hodges hid in a trash can and jumped out as teammates walked by to scare them.Â Coach Partridge and the rest of the team enjoy both their personalities.
Â â€œTheyâ€™re popular guys,â€ Partridge said.Â â€œEverybody likes them.â€
What was a fun regular season is now over.Â Missouri Western made a valiant effort to reach the playoffs for the second straight year but unfortunately fell short.Â Both Hodges and Page mentioned that the highlight of their season was defeating conference foe Pitt. State at the Jungle this year.Â The Griffons have developed into a MIAA powerhouse that is consistently one of the top teams in the conference.
Laâ€™Darrian Page and Thomas Hodges are both very good players and a lot of fun to watch.Â Unfortunately if you havenâ€™t made it to see them play yet, you have missed your chance for the year.Â Donâ€™t sweat it though; perhaps the most exciting thing about the deadly St. Joseph Squall tandem is that itâ€™s only just the beginning.Â Both players are only freshman, so itâ€™s a storm that wonâ€™t blow over any time soon.