The trophies sit on a dresser in his bedroom, testaments to hard work in the offseason. Running back Pat Mealy is not the biggest player, but he has won competitions to determine the strongest player on the DeMatha football team each of the past two seasons.

That work in the weight room -- along with adherence to a diet full of protein and low on junk food -- is helping Mealy eat up yardage like few other running backs in the Washington area this season.

Entering Saturday's game against Gonzaga, a meeting of teams that are both 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, Mealy has rushed for 830 yards and 10 touchdowns. Most impressively, he only gets 13 carries per game, averaging 10.5 yards each time. Mealy also is the Stags' second-leading receiver, with 10 catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns for DeMatha.

"I knew he was going to be great," said DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor, noting that he had one returning starter on offense and one on defense this season. "The hard part was not playing him as much as I should [last year]. He was in the mix, but you had three seniors and you had to give them the nod. You knew his time would come, but I don't know if he knew his time would come."

Mealy, though, said he had few doubts. Although only 5 feet 10 and 205 pounds, he has dedicated himself in the weight room. His eating habits also help. McGregor remembered a time in the preseason when several players were going to a burrito restaurant after practice and Mealy declined to join them.

"I just went home, got a sandwich with some lunch meat," Mealy said. "I take pride in what I eat. I don't eat stuff that's not going to do me good."

That means eating a lot of steak and vegetables, particularly corn and green beans, helping Mealy build strength. While previous DeMatha running backs like Jeff Allen and Anthony Wiseman relied on their speed, McGregor believes Mealy has speed and strength and is similar to another former Stag.

"He's very powerful, very compact," McGregor said. "He's a Brian Westbrook-type back. You can put him out at wide receiver. Coming out of the backfield he can catch the ball. When you isolate him on a linebacker, he's going to beat the linebacker one-on-one."

Pat Mealy is averaging 10.5 yards per carry and is DeMatha's second-leading receiver. "I knew he was going to be great," Stags Coach Bill McGregor said.