IHSAA football preview: 20 top running backs to watch in Central Indiana (2024)

Kyle NeddenriepIndianapolis Star

The first week of the high school football season is just seven weeks from Friday night. To help get you prepared, we take a look this week at 20 running backs to watch from Central Indiana:

Jalen Bonds, Cathedral

The 6-foot, 205-pound senior transferred from Heritage Christian prior to last season and had an outstanding junior year. After the third game of the season, Bonds became Cathedral’s top option at running back and he came through with five 100-yard rushing games and one monster 262-yard, two-touchdown game in a 20-3 win over Lawrence North in the sectional championship. Bonds, who has offers from Army, Ball State, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Western Michigan, rushed for 1,194 yards and eight TDs (6.3 yards per carry) and caught six passes for 65 yards. Bonds is a physical runner between the tackles but can also make defenders miss.

Joliba Brogan II, Mt. Vernon

The 5-8, 185-pound speedster was a major bright spot in a 7-5 season for the Marauders, posting nine 100-yard rushing games and three 200-yard games on his way to 1,733 rushing yards and 21 rushing TDs for his junior season. Brogan is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield with 12 receptions for 124 yards. He rushed for 259 yards and two touchdowns as a sophom*ore in six games. Brogan, who has an offer from St. Francis, is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball.

Jazz Coleman, Speedway

Speedway sputtered through a 3-8 season last fall but the 5-11, 200-pound Coleman had an outstanding season, leading the Sparkplugs in rushing with 888 yards and eight TDs and catching 29 passes for 253 yards and two TDs. Coleman was also one of Speedway’s top defensive players, making 122 tackles, including 12 for a loss, and three sacks from his outside linebacker position. As a freshman, he ran for 296 yards and two TDs and caught 15 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He picked up his first offer from Toledo in June.

N’po Dodo, Decatur Central

The 6-foot, 180-pound Dodo fits perfectly into the style of running back Decatur Central has featured in recent years with his ability to run out of the backfield and catch passes. As a junior, the speedy Dodo rushed for 1,194 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 315 yards and five TDs to help the Hawks bounce back from a 4-7 season in 2022 to an 11-3 mark and Class 5A state finals appearance last season.

C.J. Harris, Brebeuf Jesuit

The 5-7, 170-pound Harris exploded for a monster junior season as he rushed for 1,285 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 164 yards and two TDs. Harris, who has offers from Olivet Nazarene and Valparaiso, should thrive again in an offense that returns a lot of experience from a team that finished 7-5 and lost on a last-second field goal to Mooresville in the sectional championship. Harris ran track in the spring, competing on the 400-meter relay team that won a regional title and finished ninth at state.

Austin Hennessy, Center Grove

The 6-2, 195-pound senior is the top returning rusher for the Trojans, putting up 360 yards and three TDs last season. Hennessy was also part of Center Grove’s 1,600-meter relay team that finished fourth at the state meet this spring. He was second in the regional in the 400 meters and finished 18th at state.

Mark Kube, Eastern Hanco*ck

The 6-foot, 185-pound Kube was one of the top sophom*ore rushers in the state last season as he finished with 1,746 yards and 28 touchdowns and was named to the IFCA Class 2A all-state team. Eastern Hanco*ck made a three-win improvement to 8-5 last season and won a sectional title, falling just short in the regional against Southmont in a 41-34 loss. Kube should be in line for a big junior season with much of the offense returning.

Jeremiah Lee, Beech Grove

The 6-foot, 185-pound Lee had a major breakthrough season as a junior as he rushed for 1,648 yards and 20 touchdowns on a 5-6 team. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry and also caught 10 passes for 207 yards and two TDs. Lee was also a threat on special teams, returning eight kicks for 28.5-yard average and five punts for 10.8 yards on average. His offer list includes Army, Illinois State and UIndy. Lee has 2,552 rushing yards and 33 rushing TDs for his career, along with 19 catches for 373 yards and three TDs.

Alex Leugers, Franklin

The 6-foot, 200-pound Leugers emerged as Franklin’s top running back as a junior as he put up 1,389 rushing yards and 14 rushing TDs for the 5-5 Grizzly Cubs. Leugers started the season with six consecutive 100-yard rushing games and put up eight total, including a 232-yard game in a 29-26 win over Mooresville and 221 yards and four TDs in a win over Greenwood. Leugers was a state qualifier in the 100 meters this spring, finishing 17th. He posted a season-best 10.93 seconds in the regional and also competed in the 200, 400 relay and long jump.

Jaylan McMoore, Warren Central

The 5-9, 200-pound senior was Warren Central’s top rusher last season with 926 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. McMoore is a tough, physical runner who should again factor in as one of the top running backs for the Warriors, who are expected to make a jump from last year’s 5-7 season. Also notable is that senior James Clark (559 rushing yards, four TDs; six receptions, 54 yards) also returns and former Westfield standout Kendall Garnett III (1,119 yards and 12 TDs as a junior) has transferred to Warren Central. Garnett had 2,034 rushing yards and 24 TDs and 25 catches for 223 yards and three TDs in two seasons. The running back position should be a strength for the Warriors beyond McMoore.

Izayveon Moore, Lawrence North

There was not a more productive freshman running back in the state last year than the 5-8, 175-pound Moore, who ran for 142 yards and a touchdown in his first varsity game against Avon. Moore went on to rush for 1,127 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman and catch four passes for 51 yards and another score. Moore also threw a 73-yard touchdown pass against Carmel. It will be fun to see what he can accomplish the next three years.

Caron Parks, Lawrence Central

The 5-7, 170-pound Parks had a strong finish to his sophom*ore season with three 100-yard games in the final four games, including a 119-yard game on 23 carries in a win over Carmel. Parks finished the season with 577 yards and three TDs. Albert Gooden III also returns with running back experience as a junior after gaining 691 yards and scoring seven TDs as a sophom*ore. He had two 100-yard games last season.

Elijah Pimental, Heritage Christian

The 5-9, 160-pound Pimental became the second sophom*ore in Heritage Christian’s history to rush for more than 1,000 yards as he posted 1,382 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 112 yards and another score. He ran for at least 100 yards in nine of Heritage Christian’s 11 games. Pimental’s best game was in a 35-21 win over Scecina as he rushed for 218 yards and two TDs.

Alijah Price, Ben Davis

There might not be a more versatile running back in the state than the 5-6, 170-pound Price, who seems like he has been around forever. Price rushed for 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Class 6A state champions as a junior (averaging 6.3 yards per carry) and became an even bigger threat as a pass catcher with 31 receptions for 282 yards and four TDs. Price also returned a kickoff for a touchdown (averaging 45.8 yards on six chances) and passed for another score. In three seasons, he has 2,281 rushing yards and 27 rushing TDs and 52 receptions for 450 yards and five TDs. Price has offers from Avila, Marian, Mercyhurst, St. Francis, UIndy and Valparaiso.

Toby Savini, Cascade

The 5-10, 170-pound Savini, a three-sport athlete who also competes in basketball and baseball, was one of the top sophom*ore rushers in the state last season as he finished with 1,055 yards and 12 TDs and caught nine passes for 125 yards and three TDs. Savini was also outstanding on kickoff returns as he averaged 30.3 yards on 11 returns, scoring twice, and recorded 57 tackles on defense.

Brendan Shockley, Lebanon

The 5-10, 185-pound Shockley was one of the top rushers in Class 4A last season as a junior. He finished the season with 1,105 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns and has 1,479 rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs for his career, along with seven catches for 44 yards. Shockley also had 39 tackles on defense as a junior. He will be a big part of a Lebanon team that should be able to improve on a 5-6 season last fall.

Luke Starnes, Plainfield

The 5-8, 185-pound Starnes came out of nowhere as a sophom*ore to run for 952 yards and 12 TDs for the 6-4 Quakers. He put up four 100-yard games in his first five varsity appearances, including a 175-yard, four-TD game in a 46-20 win over Greenwood. Starnes also caught 13 passes for 86 yards. Starnes also plays baseball for Plainfield.

Darrell Taylor, Crispus Attucks

The 5-8, 200-pound Taylor emerged as a serious talent as a sophom*ore last season for Attucks as he ran for at least 100 yards in every game but the opener (he had 98 that game) on his way to rushing for 2,111 yards and 23 touchdowns for the season. In the sectional, Taylor ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries in a 35-32 loss to Lebanon. He also caught eight passes for 170 yards and two TDs as a sophom*ore and scored twice on kickoff returns, once on a punt return and once on an interception return.

Azariah Wallace, Hamilton Southeastern

The 5-11, 195-pound senior has played in something of a backup role the past two seasons to Jalen Alexander, who is now a freshman at Ball State. But Wallace has played quite a bit and has experience in big games for a team that is 21-4 over the past two seasons. He rushed for 595 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior (5.7 yards per carry) and has 1,110 total rushing yards and 17 TDs over two seasons. Wallace is a load to tackle. He has an offer from Miami of Ohio.

Slate Valentine, Whiteland

The 5-9, 170-pound Valentine was one of Whiteland’s top running backs as a sophom*ore as he went for 587 yards and eight TDs, including 92 yards and a score in the Class 5A state championship loss to Valparaiso. Valentine went to another level as a junior as he put up 100 yards in every game but one (that was a 99-yard game in a loss to Kokomo) and finished with 1,940 yards and 20 touchdowns for the season. He should be in store for another big season in Whiteland’s run-heavy offense.

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

IHSAA football preview: 20 top running backs to watch in Central Indiana (2024)

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