Burlington Central senior running back Trevor Davison said he felt a little lost when junior running back Jason Berango went out with a knee injury three weeks ago.
After all, it meant he only had the opponents to compete against.
“Without him, there’s no other person I connect with, really,” Davison said. “Having Jason back out there, we go back and forth, blocking for each other, trying for bigger runs and trying to outdo each other.”
The two will be back together Friday, competing against each other as well as the opponent with Berango much closer to full strength after the knee injury. The Rockets (5-3, 5-1) travel to winless Rockford Christian.
With a win, Central locks up a playoff berth. Central also could get in on playoff points with a loss, but no one is thinking about back doors.
“A team’s record doesn’t mean anything at this point in the year, with this at stake,” Berango said.
If the opponent doesn’t offer a lot of competition, Berango and Davison can find it with each other — and usually do.
“The competition between us is so high,” Berango said. “One of us is always trying to have a higher game in rushing yards or scoring.”
Even when football ends, they carry this rivalry over to the spring, when both run the 100 and 200 dashes and sprint relays in track, with an eye on a lower time than the other.
Davison said the two usually pick their spots for trash talk.
“It’s usually more when we get to look at game film or when we’re on the sidelines because in the huddle we’re just trying to pick each other up,” he said.
So far the rushing yardage aspect of the competition is close because of the knee injury that sidelined Berango against Richmond-Burton, and still had him slowed somewhat in last week’s 7-0 loss to Johnsburg for the Big Northern East title.
Berango has 597 yards on 92 carries and Davison 546 yards on 102 carries. Berango has nine touchdowns and Davison eight. Davison gets used more in the passing game, with 18 catches for 244 yards to Berango’s eight catches for 48 yards.
Their running styles are a bit different, although both are 5-8, 175 pounds.
“I tend to put my shoulder down and follow my blocking — I like to get back in the blast package behind our two fullbacks, Anton Christiansen and Brad Sorensen,” Davison said. “He runs to green grass and finds the open lane. But both of us can turn it on for some long runs.”
Both know the real key for a running back getting anywhere.
“Neither of us is going anywhere if the offensive line isn’t executing — but they have been all year,” Berango said.
Having Berango back helps boost the need for the offense to rebound against Rockford Christian and then into the playoffs.
“The past few games the defense has been saving us,” Berango said. “We need to change the momentum and keep the ball on offense longer so we can give our defense a break.”
The goal now is to extend the season. That way they can keep the friendly rivalry going.
After all, it’s a long time until track season.