It’s no secret that the Highland Hawks have efficiently run the ball all season long.
The Hawks have averaged over 200 yards rushing per game with 20 touchdowns this season. A majority of the production is carried by senior running back Max Davis.
Davis entered the season with big shoes to fill. Highland lost two-way superstar Daniel Wood, who posted 19 rushing touchdowns in 2019. Davis felt playing backup to Wood was necessary for his own development .
“It was super nice being behind Daniel because he was such a great running back,” Davis said. “Learning from him definitely helped setting me up for this season.”
Davis has surpassed his own production from his junior season, and is close to matching Woods’ in just half the number of games. Through six games, Davis has a total of 908 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns.
“He’s an amazing athlete. He will run people over or juke them out or do whatever he needs to get those extra yards and touchdowns,” senior safety Ammon Allen said.
Now as the starter, Davis has also taken on a leadership position for the players behind him. Davis tries his best to let junior running backs Aiden Witthus and Steven Trujillo “do their own thing” and assists where he can.
“They both are hard workers and do a great job. I just try to teach them the little techniques that will help them as they continue on,” said Davis.
Highland's running game was on full display in its third game of the season, picking up 377 yards on the ground and scoring all seven touchdowns against the Sandra Day O’Connor Eagles. The Hawks ran the ball for 273 yards for five touchdowns in an encore performance the following week.
“We just needed to get used to getting the pads on and playing in the first couple weeks,” said Davis. “We hit our stride in week three and everything started to click. Our offensive line worked hard in practice all week and created a bunch of holes in the game.”
The 4-3 Hawks are one game away from the end of the season and look to end a three game skid against the Higley Knights. Davis, coming off a 100-yard rushing game against the Chandler Wolves, knows that to win the game, they have to be efficient in the air and ground game in order to win.
“Our running game is important to get going for our passing game and our passing game is important to get our running game going,” said Davis. “We just need to come out hard, play our best, and hopefully we can get things rolling.”
In a year full of obstacles for players like Davis, there is still an emphasis on leading through example on the Highland football team.
“The younger guys are watching us play and I think their confidence is growing. They don’t get the playing time we do, but they see what we go through and how we play,” said Davis. “We’ve been in their shoes before so we try to show them where they’ll end up when they’re seniors.”
Zachary Larson is a sports journalism major at Arizona State University covering Highland High School.