BISMARCK (WCIA) — Entering the season, Mark Dodd and Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin had one of the best, if not the best backfields in Central Illinois with Izaack Kitchens and Caleb Lahey.
“Expectations were obviously extremely high and we knew we were going to have a really good season,” Lahey said.
That was until Kitchens tore his right ACL on his first carry of the season.
“I looked over and saw that he was hurt and knew it wasn’t good and went back to the huddle and he went off,” added Lahey.
It was Kitchens’ second torn ACL. The senior tore his left one in the Blue Devils’ first round playoff game last year. With Kitchens out for the season, Caleb Lahey is now handling the ground game.
“I knew that I was going to have to take that another level up in practice and do everything even more, put more effort into everything,” he said.
Through the first six games, Lahey has carried the ball 139 times for 1,577 yards and 21 touchdowns. By comparison, Kitchens ran for 1,860 yards in nine games last season. The Blue Devils will once again rely on Lahey Friday night when they visit Westville in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week. It will likely decide the Vermilion Valley conference champion.
“Huge growth and maturity,” Dodd said about Lahey. “He’s such a better practice player. He’s much more attentive to detail and our offensive line, they thrive when they know he’s going to get the ball also because if they do their job they know he’s going to do his.”
The Blue Devils are currently playing without Kitchens and their starting quarterback Wyatt Edwards, he broke his finger earlier this season. It means they have a sophomore quarterback and a sophomore running back.
“As a coach you have to kind of simplify things and just take it kind of in stages and try not to overwhelm them too quickly,” said Dodd.
Kitchens had successful surgery on his knee on Tuesday morning. Up until then, he hadn’t missed a practice all year.