O'Connell High School's Eric Metcalf performs as most people see themselves in fantasy -- if they have a good imagination.

"I had a dream once (to become the best back in the area)," said Metcalf, a running back who turned it into reality last season: 1,058 yards on 154 carries, 16 touchdowns, six passes thrown for 94 yards, 10 passes caught for 279 yards and three touchdowns, two kickoffs and a punt returned for three more scores and two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

An all-Met selection last fall, Metcalf was also named Metro Referee Player of the Year and was named to the Catholic all-America team.

"And I still fantasize," he said.

If Metcalf stops dreaming, opposing teams might be able to breathe easier. After six games, Metcalf, who is 5 feet 9 1/2 and 170 pounds, has 660 yards rushing and six touchdowns in helping O'Connell to a 5-1 record.

This year's dream includes a championship and a goal to reach 1,500 yards rushing.

Terry Metcalf, Eric's father and the receivers coach for O'Connell, says there is no back in the area who can compare to his son.

"(Mike) Anderson (DeMatha's all-Met and player of the year last fall) is an excellent running back," said the elder Metcalf, a former St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Redskins running back, as he watched O'Connoll's game against Good Counsel.

"He's your John Riggins type runner -- punishing and brutal. He's going to carry the ball 20 to 30 times a game.

"But Eric is completely different. He only averages 10 to 12 carries a game . . . . Look how he's reading the defense."

Suddenly an uproar. Eric Metcalf has just thrown a 45-yard pass in the second quarter of play to set up O'Connell's first touchdown en route to a 31-7 victory Friday night. "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. He can do it all. Versatile. He's like I was when I was in high school -- a jack of all trades. I compare him to me."

"He is the best running back I've seen in my 15 years of coaching," said Good Counsel Coach Tom Hilton. "You can't design a defense to stop him. He makes players fall with his moves, stop and go's, and speed. You can't defense him."

"Eric is the biggest threat in the league," said DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor. "He's a fantastic athlete. He beat us single handidly last year. Give him a little daylight and he'll burn you."

Eric Metcalf studies tapes of his father every chance he gets.

"I study tapes of my father when he played and I've learned a lot from them," said Eric. "I've learned how to be patient, read defenses and use my blockers.

"He's (Terry) always there to give me advice and answer all my questions," Eric continued. "He motivates me. He is an influencing factor."

What makes him good is his "speed and ability to read defenses" said Terry. "Those are God given talents that you can't teach."

Add long elegant strides, graceful moves, cuts and crazy runs and you have a one-man highlight film.

Consider this Metcalf play in the third quarter against Good Counsel. Metcalf, lined up 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, received a pitch-out from quarterback John Gutter. Running slowly toward the left sideline, he read the defense and reversed direction. He cut back against the grain, eluding three would-be tacklers. "That's when I saw the daylight I was waiting for," said Metcalf.

He turned on his speed (4.4 in the 40) and scored a 60-yard touchdown.

"You can't devise a defense to stop runs like that," said the elder Metcalf. Eric finished the game with 167 yards on 16 carries.

So how do you stop him? "I don't know of a way to stop him," said Hilton. "I don't think you can stop him.

Eric is enjoying his fame, but not all the questions -- especially the question. "I guess the question most asked is what school I'm considering after this season."

With almost every major university showing interest, including a visit from Nebraska scouts last week, Metcalf says he has not decided which college he will attend. "I'm concentrating on helping the team out as much as possible and improving my game in every possible way."

What needs improvement?

"His blocking," said Terry. "He can work harder on his blocking."

And maybe on coming up with some new dreams.