A big part of Coach Jim Poythress's plan to rebuild the Lake Braddock football program is an emphasis on strength.
In junior Jordan Russell, Poythress has found a running back focused on the same thing.
Russell wasn't one of Poythress's top three options at the position when the coach arrived last season, but he has emerged as the top rusher in the Patriot District this year. Russell has helped power the Bruins to a 4-2 record after a winless campaign in 2004, a season in which other teams dominated the Bruins physically, Poythress said.
Russell, at 5 feet 8, 180 pounds, has a mixture of speed and strength that has allowed him to carry the load for Lake Braddock. His 936 yards rank ninth best in the Washington area, and last week against Langley, he had 35 carries for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the Bruins' 21-0 win. It was the second straight game time he had carried the ball at least 35 times and gained more than 200 yards on the ground.
Poythress and Russell credit these stats to an intense offseason weight-training program. Russell won the county's power lifting title for the 180-pound weight class.
"There's a lot of confidence building if you know you can lift a certain amount," Russell said. "You definitely know you can push people around on the line."
Russell's strength has never been a question, but his position as starting running back wasn't solidified until recently. After three Lake Braddock running backs were lost to various maladies last year, Russell became the starter and finished as the team's leading rusher. This year, he entered the season competing with Wakefield transfer Jonathan Ramos for the top spot, but Ramos was shifted to wide receiver and third-down back.
Russell's underdog status parallels that of his team, which hasn't had a winning season since 2001, Poythress said.
"At the end of the day, Jordan's stronger and faster than anyone else his size," the coach said. "He's just a competitor."
The Bruins' defense has also played well this season. In Lake Braddock' four victories, the defense has allowed six points or less, including shutouts over Langley and South County the last two weeks.
Such results have the Bruins, who are 2-2 in the Patriot, thinking that a district title is not out of the question.
"It'd be the first time in a long time that Lake Braddock has that opportunity," Russell said. "We want to do something that has never been done: To go from 0-10 to winning the district. That'd be great."