PITTSBURG, Kan. - The Pittsburg Purple Dragons are 2-0 to start the football season. Last Friday, they beat the Chanute Blue Comets 41-27 in their home opener for their second win of the season.
Pittsburg has gotten plenty of production out of the ground game through the first two weeks, rushing for 637 total yards. A big chunk of that came from Shay Mahnken last Friday against Chanute, when he rushed for 206 yards and 4 touchdowns.
That's not bad for a guy who started only on the defensive line last season, and hasn't gotten consistent reps in game action out of the backfield since junior high.
"I've had a lot of talent ahead of me the last couple years," Mahnken says, "I got some weight off of me this off-season, and it feels a lot better to be able to move a little more than I was able to last year. The offensive line really opened up a lot of holes for me."
"As the games have progressed, we've just gone with the kid with the hot hand," says head coach Tom Nickelson, "Obviously last Friday it saw Shay. We've known all summer that we were going to do more of a committee approach, but whoever was feeling it and finding the holes would get a few more of the touches."
Mahnken is a powerlifting state champion and stands at 5'9", 190. His combination of strength and small stature make him a problem to tackle.
"He's all muscle and he runs with low pad level and high knees. So there's not a whole lot of area to hit him," Nickelson adds, "He is tough to bring down. Very rarely does one guy get a clean shot on him and knock him down. It's tough to get down to his legs because he's running behind his pads. He's just a little fire plug going through there, and it's fun to watch him run."
Mahnken and the Dragons will be back on the field this Friday, on the road against the Blue Valley North Mustangs.
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