Before practice started in August, Groveport Madison football coach Bryan Schoonover looked at his group of running backs and wondered how he would mesh their talents and keep the workload balanced.
"These guys all have a specific skill set they bring to the table," Schoonover said of Emmanuel Anthony, Te-Ron Coleman, Jashuan McGraw and Jalil Underdown. "We have power guys. We have speed guys. They all catch the ball pretty well. We were sitting there in July and wondered what we'd do with all four of them. You think one or two of them can do the job you need done, but three of them can play fullback and rotate different spots.
"It's been an interesting thing on the weekends when we meet trying to figure out who can go where and where we can move guys around."
So far, the Cruisers have few, if any, complaints about their running game.
Groveport is averaging 267.8 rushing yards, helping the Cruisers to records of 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Capital Division entering a Friday, Oct. 18, game at Newark.
Anthony has a team-high eight rushing touchdowns, ahead of McGraw (seven), Underdown (five) and Coleman (two). Markell Barksdale and Hunter Rathburn have one each.
Anthony scored twice in a 28-0 win over visiting Canal Winchester on Oct. 11, including a 95-yard run early in the fourth quarter that came one play after Jasiyah Robinson recovered a fumble on the Cruisers' 1-yard line. Anthony finished with 168 yards on 11 carries.
Schoonover nicknamed the group "The Four Horsemen," after Notre Dame's backfield of Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Don Miller and Harry Stuhldreher that led the Fighting Irish to a 27-2 record from 1922-24 under legendary coach Knute Rockne.
"I just bring the power. I'm the horse," said McGraw, a 5-foot-10, 240-pound senior fullback. "This is the role I wanted to fill. I love being the power guy."
Coleman, a junior who suffered a torn ACL his freshman year, also had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Sept. 13 during a 41-14 win at Worthington Kilbourne.
"This is what I expected out of myself," Coleman said. "I didn't play how I wanted to play last year because I was still nervous about my knee. I came back this year and I felt a lot stronger and better about how I am running."
Groveport amassed a season-high 364 yards rushing at Kilbourne and 357 in a 61-7 rout of Franklin Heights on Oct. 4.
"We have games where a guy might get four or five touches, but he doesn't really care because the other guys are doing well," Schoonover said. "You really want to see that. They all support each other. They've evolved as a group."
The 5-10, 205-pound Anthony, a fourth-year starter, played his first two seasons in the spread before Groveport switched to the wing-T. He was a starting slot receiver as a freshman.
"This is something I was comfortable with. I like this offense," Anthony said. "I bring some power and a little bit of speed. I had to grow into the speed part. It was a big jump to start as a freshman. I trained in the offseason and then my sophomore year, I ran track, a lot of sprinting events. That definitely helped me get faster."
Elyjah Aekins had a fumble recovery and an interception to lead the defense against Canal Winchester, which had won 15 consecutive games dating to last season.
Newark fell to 0-7 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Capital with a 48-0 loss at New Albany on Oct. 11. The Wildcats were outgained 536-111 in total yards and quarterback Jaden Woods completed just six of 22 passes for 25 yards with three interceptions.