Saturday, October 17, 2009

Six-Man Stars Have Emory to Emulate

It's not often a college football player earns first-team all-conference honors in his first two seasons, but it's a rare distinction claimed by ACU junior fullback Emery Dudensing (who also was academic all-LSC). Even more remarkable is that this bruising player on whom the Wildcats depend comes from a high school that plays six-man football.

Built like a 55-gallon drum, Dudensing – 5-9 and 240 pounds – was a blocker extraordinare for teammate Bernard Scott, who auditioned in 2007 and 2008 for his current job as a future NFL player, much of it thanks to his fullback. This fall, Scott is a rookie running back for the Cincinnati Bengals, while Dudensing is back on campus to help pave the way for a new backfield of ACU runners.

Dudensing was a multi-sport star and the valedictorian of the Rule High School graduating class, earning first-team all-state in football as a senior before enrolling at ACU. Few college coaches give six-man football players a chance because it’s hard to project their skills from the shorter (80-yard-long field) and smaller (some schools have fewer than 20 players on the roster) game with wide-open offenses and high-scoring final scores.

But as many fans from diminutive towns and communities across Texas will tell you, football is football, no matter the size of the field nor players on it. They know six-man games are dominated by fleet-footed, fearless athletes who master one-on-one blocking techniques and make fierce open-field tackles while covering more ground each play than a free-safety in an 11-man game.

Few 11-man football fans realize the career rushing and scoring leader for today’s opponent, West Texas A&M, is running back Dewayne Miles, who starred in six-man football at Amherst High School in the mid-1990s. He led the Bulldogs to state titles in 1994 and 1995, rushing for an other-worldly (even for the six-man game) 3,545 yards and 89 touchdowns his senior year of high school.

Remember University of Nebraska tackle Dean Steinkuhler, who won the 1983 Outland Trophy (awarded to the nation’s top offensive lineman) and Lombardi Trophy for the Cornhuskers? He played eight-man football in Burr, Neb., at the time, the smallest U.S. community (population 110) to ever produce a consensus first-team all-America major college football player. Steinkuhler was the second overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft and played eight years for the Houston Oilers.

Dudensing’s high school lost in the Texas state finals in 2006 (78-58) and 2007 (98-54), both to Richland Springs, another six-man juggernaut, proof that when two offensively gifted teams are on top of their game, even the best defenses can become mere spectators. When ACU beat West Texas A&M, 93-68, in the second round of the NCAA playoffs last November, you have to think Dudensing looked at the Shotwell Stadium scoreboard and felt right at home.

He missed the first few games of this season due to a leg injury, but he’s back on the field, sharing time with Justin Andrews, and flattening defenders again. Wildcat running backs are mighty thankful, and six-man football players across Texas once again have a first-rate college player to emulate in their own unique Friday Night Lights experience.

1 comment:

Mandie Reed said...

can you believe a girl is reading about football. lol :) i can't help it i love it!

mandie reed