With talented seniors all over the Moapa Valley offense last season, running back Landon Wrzesinski could just be another cog in the wheel.
This season, at least early on, Wrzesinski might have to be the whole wheel.
“We’re going to give him the ball every chance we get,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “He’ll catch it and he’ll run it. He’s versatile enough to do that.”
Moapa Valley has been one of the most consistent winners in the valley, and it brought home the Class 3A state championship last season with a 12-0 record.
Wrzesinski ran for 990 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 8.6 yards per carry and caught seven passes for 115 yards and a score.
Those numbers came behind a big, experienced offensive line. While Wrzesinski will be the focal point of the offense, meaning he might touch the ball twice as much as he did last season, yards could be harder to come by behind a smaller, less-experienced group up front.
“It’s way different than last year, but I’ve already learned a lot on how to improve my leadership,” Wrzesinski said. “I love (the linemen). I understand they’re learning, and it can get frustrating. But I have to understand they are doing the best they can.”
How Wrzesinski channels that frustration will go a long way in determining how successful of a season he has, Lewis said.
If he uses it to get in the linemen’s faces and causes them to lose confidence, it could be a long year. But if he uses his voice to encourage the linemen and helps them by earning a few extra yards even on plays that aren’t blocked perfectly, it could lift the entire team.
Lewis wants to see Wrzesinski hit the hole, make the first defender miss and then force at least two to bring him down. He said he thinks the 6-foot, 185-pounder is physical enough to routinely make that happen.
“Last year one of the aspects we really worked with him on is hitting the hole and getting downhill,” Lewis said. “He wanted to bounce everything. He has really good speed, and he’s a very tough, physical runner.”
Wrzesinski will also play as a defensive back and be a kick returner, so Lewis said he’ll probably never leave the field.
“I feel like it’s going to be a good opportunity for me to get my name out there,” Wrzesinski said. “Only positive things can come from that, but I know I’m going to be a target for other teams so it could be difficult sometimes.”
If everything goes according to plan, some young players will emerge and take some of the pressure off Wrzesinski as the season progresses.
He said the process of the team coming together is no different than last season, despite the disparity in experience between the groups.
“Every year, you have things to improve on,” Wrzesinski said. “Even last year, we had some things we needed to improve on, but toward the end we could see the team coming together more and more, and we finally got that end goal. We’re really driving forward to get to state again. We have the weapons to do it.”