Jay Washington hasn’t looked or performed like a first-year varsity running back this season.
The sophomore has emerged as Dreher’s go-to back and turned in his best performance of his young career last Friday against Lower Richland.
Played in a heavy downpour for most of the game, Washington rushed for 212 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns in Dreher’s 36-16, Region 4-3A-opening victory. He earned The State’s Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“It was incredible,” Dreher coach Treigh Sullivan said of Washington’s performance. “To do it in those conditions with Lower Richland knowing he was going to get the ball, he was really effective.”
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Through six games, Washington leads Dreher and is fifth in the Midlands with 779 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. He has rushed for more than 100 yards four times this season.
Some of Washington’s efforts have come with Dreher battling injuries on its offensive line. But with the Blue Devils’ starting line intact last week, Washington showed more of what he is capable of and Sullivan believes the young back is just scratching the surface on his potential.
Sullivan says Washington, 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, is more of a downhill, power runner, which is a little different than last year’s leading rusher, Lorenzo Ward. So Dreher has tailored things more around Washington’s strengths.
“He still is really raw and the ceiling for him is really high,” Sullivan said. “He is still learning how to read blocks right now and a lot of his runs are just on athleticism. But the trust factor we have with him is definitely there, and it is exciting to see him grow.”
Sullivan said the biggest obstacle for Washington was his work ethic and commitment, something he didn’t have last season and might have been a reason he didn’t come out for the JV team.
But there is no such worry this year as Washington, a center fielder on the Dreher baseball team, showed up for all the summer workouts and increased his strength and power.
“He got a chance to be really, really good and his commitment is outstanding,” Sullivan said. “If he improves as much as he has done in the second half of the season as he has done in the first, there is no telling what he will be like at the end of the season.”