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There is a moment in every defensive back’s career, one that brings forward a mix of deep clarity and sheer terror. The other team’s star running back is carrying the ball. He’s running laterally, seeking to reach the edge of all the turmoil involving the two teams’ linemen. If he reaches that edge without any major hindrances, he can turn the corner and head upfield. The hope is that a linebacker can intercede, but if none is up to the task, it falls to the DB to make the play.

The running back reaches the edge and cuts upfield, heading due north, with no linebacker in sight. The DB is due east of the runner and if he heads in that direction, he’s done. So, while in full sprint, he calculates the angle that will allow him to meet the running back somewhere up the field. The problem is that the DB has to run the hypotenuse of that triangle while the runner just has to run one leg of it. 

If he gets to the vertex too late, the DB will have to just chase the running back all the way to the end zone, hoping against hope that maybe the runner will trip over a blade of grass or he’ll slow down (yeah, right!)…or maybe it’s all just a bad dream.

Amphi running back Kiko Trejo has been handing out geometry lessons to opposing DBs all season long. He is the leading rusher in Southern Arizona and has multiple touchdown runs of 70 yards or more this season. He is a major reason why the resurgent Panthers are 9-2 over the past couple seasons.

Last year, when Amphi went 4-0 in the pandemic-shortened season, Trejo was a sometimes ball carrier, but most-times blocker for star back Isaiah Hill. This year, it’s all Trejo. 

He has been running over, around and through people all season. A couple weeks ago, he broke off touchdown scampers of 78 and 90 yards against visiting Douglas, but later came up with a twisted ankle. The following week, he rushed for fewer than 50 yards and the Panthers were upset by Catalina Foothills. That loss may keep them out of the state playoffs.

He also plays defensive back, so I asked him which would be less appealing for him: carrying the ball straight at Los Angeles Rams defensive monster Aaron Donald or trying to tackle freight-train running back Derrick Henry (famous for tossing aside NFL DBs). 

His response: “I’d rather try to tackle Derrick Henry. He’s more strong and fast than he is quick [that makes perfect sense]. I’d go low for the legs or ankles and wrap him up every time. He’d never get behind me with a juke. No problem.”

OK, then.

The best running backs in Tucson over the past three years are Bijan Robinson (now at Texas and on the short list for the Heisman Trophy), Stevie Rocker (now starting for the Arizona Wildcats) and Kiko Trejo. Not bad company. 

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