Bartlett’s Aaron Everson carries load

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Aaron Everson is a 6-foot, 200-pound speedster who plays the game of football like a bruiser.

That combination of quickness and toughness is a big reason why Bartlett’s senior running back is in the midst of a monster season where performances like Saturday’s prolific display against Lake Park seem commonplace.

Everson racked up 253 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries in his team’s 21-13 win against the Lancers at Millennium Field. The effort marked the fourth time this season Everson topped 230 rushing yards in a single outing.

The Hawks don’t deviate from the game plan much as evidenced by the fact Everson carried the ball on 38 of the team’s 46 plays from scrimmage against Lake Park. But who can blame them when they’ve got a player as productive as Everson.

“Aaron is a workhorse,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. “We give the ball to him a lot and he responds 99 percent of the time for us.”

A year ago Everson was stuck behind sophomore sensation James Butler on the depth chart, serving as nothing more than a change-of-pace option for Bartlett’s dynamic offense.

Everson’s strong offseason had coaches thinking he’d form a nice one-two punch with Butler during the 2012 campaign, but those plans were dashed when Butler transferred from Bartlett to St. Francis during the summer.

From the outside looking in it seemed like the Hawks might have trouble without an up-and-coming star like Butler, but internally there was little doubt about Everson’s ability to shoulder the load.

So far Everson has only bolstered that confidence by running for a whopping 1,195 yards on 157 carries while scoring 20 total touchdowns through the first six weeks of the season.

“It was rough last year because (Butler) started, obviously,” Everson said. “This year the whole team has my back. But it’s mostly the O-line. Without them, I’m not doing anything.”

The team-first approach is just another reason why Everson has so much support from teammates and coaches. By no means is he a player who seeks out attention, instead preferring to give all the credit to others.

While Bartlett’s brawny offensive line certainly has had a hand in Everson’s success, his gifts as a running back are hard to deny.

Everson was a state track qualifier last spring in the 100-meter dash and as a member of Bartlett’s 400 relay team. He showed off some of that speed while sprinting away from a host of defenders on a 95-yard touchdown carry against Lake Park, but there’s more to his game than just an ability to run fast.

“I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, he’s just a track kid,’” Meaney said. “But he’s strong, durable, hard working and a kid who can run people over.

“That’s what happens when you work out as much as he does and condition as much as he does. He puts in a lot of effort.”

Everson is averaging 199.2 rushing yards per game and 7.6 yards per carry this season, putting him on pace to approach 2,000 yards on the ground if the Hawks can reach the playoffs as expected. Even in Bartlett’s losses to state-ranked Wheaton North and Waubonsie Valley he managed 98 and 100 rushing yards, respectively.

But for every long gain, Everson probably has three or four carries where he is scrapping for just a few yards. Such is life for a guy who touches the ball on the vast majority of his team’s plays.

“You just keep trying,” Everson said of his approach as a running back. “Some plays will pop and some plays I just get crushed. That’s football for you.”

Spoken like a true bruiser.

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