Marcos De Niza running back Mauriece Lee came into Friday's regular season finale not as the offense's focal point, but just one of an assortment of Padres' weapons.
Friday's game tape will leave the Padres' Division II first round playoff opponent with a much different impression.
Marcos De Niza defeated Cesar Chavez 34-7 to ensure home field advantage in the first round while knocking out the Champions from the postseason.
Lee came into the game with less than 500 yards rushing on the season, overshadowed by quarterback Tommy Thornton, receiver Paul Elvira and at times, five other runners with more than 100 yards on the season.
Lee had 113 yards Friday, including two long touchdown runs.
"He is a total stud," Thornton said. "The kid can do it all. He's a fantastic receiver, he has great hands, he can make you miss and he can run you over."
It was not so much the stats that stood out, but the manner in which Lee totalled them.
"He's just so elusive," long-time Padres' coach Roy Lopez said. "He's like a ghost."
Sure, Lee showed break-away speed on his 67- and 30-yard touchdown runs. But more concerning for a stout, fast defense, as the Padres are likely to face in the playoffs, was Lee's ability to change directions and find open lanes across the field with keen peripheral vision.
Lee jump-cut three times on his first touchdown run, bouncing from the sidelines to the open field twice, making like an apparition across a haunted maze.
"The cutback was there (on the 67-yard touchdown run)," Lee said. "So I cut back. I saw the whole field."
Lee was not the only Padres player who'll likely put a fright into the Division II field, as Thornton (three total touchdowns) and Elvira (one long reception) consistently connect and complement one another, as Elvira stretches the defense long and Thornton finds the open crevasses in-between.
While the victory was marred by penalties (10 for 115 yards), and interceptions (Thornton threw two), Lopez has reason to believe both his offense and defense are coming together at just the right time.
"Hopefully we're peaking at the right time," Lopez said.