EAGLE POINT — It took a little while but things seem to finally be coming together for the Eagle Point football team, and the combination of Garrett Snow and Jakob Combs has been a prime factor in the team's upswing.
Forced to reshuffle the deck after a variety of injuries, illnesses and other issues negatively impacted early-season progress, the Eagles have turned to a power running scheme that has certainly been agreeable to Snow and Combs when they join forces in the backfield.
"It seemed like the first couple weeks were really difficult for us to kind of get into a rhythm and once we started the power-I, it just seemed to fit our personnel really well," says Snow, 17. "There's a bunch of threats now in the backfield and, in the beginning of the year, it seemed like guys were keying on me and it was harder to get yards."
Now with Combs stepping up to lessen the load, along with Donald Everett and Nick Owens, the Eagles (3-4) finally seem to be churning out the yards most figured would be natural for a team stocked with experienced linemen.
"We thought all along that the strength of our football team was going to be running the football with the kids we have up front," says EP head coach Jacob Schauffler. "Consistency in our lineup has really slowed them down but the pieces are all there."
Snow has been the featured piece throughout the season to complement his duties at middle linebacker. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound senior is averaging 100 yards per game through seven weeks, churning away at more than 6 yards per carry to notch 10 rushing touchdowns.
"He's got great vision and feet," Schauffler says of the third-year starter. "Even though he's a big kid, he moves really well."
And although he's capable of dodging oncoming defenders, Combs says Snow is more than willing to lower his shoulder when the need arises.
"He's a really hard runner and he can hit, that's for sure," says Combs, 16. "He never gives up."
Snow has the versatility to play tailback and work behind the blocking of Owens, who is a converted offensive lineman, as well as move to fullback and gain ground from there or open a path for Combs. The junior runner provides an entirely different look with his 5-9, 180-pound frame.
"He's quick, he's powerful and he's the complete package," Snow says of Combs. "It's nice to have someone that can go in there when I get a break and get some good yardage, and then when we're both in there, he reads blocks really well and he's a great runner."
Last week against North Eugene, Combs burst onto the scene with 223 yards and two TDs on 17 carries as a shifty complement to Snow, who had 143 yards and three TDs on nine carries. Everett also added 59 yards and one TD as the Eagles amassed 433 yards on the ground.
"The last two weeks, Jakob's had great games for a junior who is kinda coming into his own," says Schauffler. "Scheme-wise it's very similar what we're doing with him and Garrett, it's just the way they both do it is so different it's hard for defenses to adjust. You'd think you'd have to have two different schemes because they're completely different backs, but it's really not. They're just both strong, quick kids who do things well and are hard to bring down."
Combs says it's that ability to put doubt in which direction the Eagles are going to go that has made all the difference in recent weeks.
"It's nice having different backs who can do different things," he says. "It helps change up the run game for us."
"I know they're keying on Garrett from last year," adds Combs, "but it's nice to give them something else to look at with two different running styles."
Each running back has been able to take something away from the other, and Combs says Snow was especially helpful in the early stages of the season to help get him acclimated to the varsity backfield.
Both runners, however, say the biggest credit to their success goes to the blocking in front of them by center Hunter Delange, tackles Tyrone Holmes and Trevor Olsen and guards Bryan Strong, Manny Valdovinos and Brandon Dale. The offensive line, along with tight end Zach Reed, has come together and jelled in recent weeks as the team has transitioned from a spread offense to a more traditional set.
"It's a complete 180 from what we were doing before scheme-wise," says Schauffler. "Teams that would've watched one of our first three games of the year and watched the last two or three games probably wouldn't believe it's the same kids. We just had to kinda figure out how we were going to make it work with the kids that we have, and hopefully we've done that."
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT, www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry