The plan may not have called for Lucious Dickson to be Cleveland High School’s primary ball carrier this fall, but the Storm, and Dickson, adapted on the fly.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound senior became Cleveland’s No. 1 backfield option midseason, and he has responded by giving the Storm excellent production, sometimes under the most demanding circumstances.
Top-seeded Cleveland hosts No. 2 seed Rio Rancho in Saturday’s 6A football championship game. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
“Lucious is very dynamic,” Cleveland coach Heath Ridenour said. “He is very useful in different ways, he understands the offense really well, and he’s a physical kid, so he can do things without the ball in his hand. He’s a Swiss Army knife for us on offense.”
Dickson gained a modest 163 yards through the first half of Cleveland’s season, but following an injury to Josh Perry in a district game against Atrisco Heritage, Dickson has gained 567 yards and has emerged as arguably the most unsung back of the second half of the season.
His efforts include a 144-yard, four-touchdown performance – with all four scores in the second half – against Rio Rancho on Oct. 29, when the Storm rallied to win 28-27.
He gained another 144 yards last week in a quarterfinal victory over Las Cruces.
“We talked about it a lot,” said Dickson. “We went over me, Isaac (Medrano) and the other backs, and we knew what we had to do when Josh went down.”
The Rio Rancho game illustrated his importance; although Zach Vigil of the Rams was the most flashy back in that game, Dickson had the biggest impact in the outcome.
“He really just stepped up,” Cleveland junior quarterback Evan Wysong said. “And he became the running back that we needed, and the guy in the backfield to protect me during passes. He’s a very well-rounded back.”
Dickson was slowed earlier in the year by an ankle injury, which he said probably diminished his role in the Storm offense.
“Soon as my ankle got better,” he said, “i got back on track to where I envisioned my role.”
Dickson gives Cleveland a multi-purpose back insomuch as he runs physically but has unexpected pick-up in open space. His game-winning score against the Rams last month was evidence of that, as he bounced outside on a middle run, got to the sideline and outraced the Rio Rancho defense to the end zone.
“I definitely think I’m more of a physical back, but I have that ability to put my foot in the ground and get upfield,” he said.
“And I think people don’t see that as much when you come and look at me. I don’t have the body build of a speed back, but I definitely have that in my game.”
Dickson, who averages 5.5 yards a carry, has scored a dozen rush touchdowns for the Storm.
And he’ll be expected to shoulder an important load against the Rams as the season comes to an end this weekend.
“Lucious’ vision between the tackles is good, and he has the ability to finish runs, to be really powerful,” Ridenour said. “He’s a very, very talented running back.”