The success of South Lakes’ duo of running backs starts, of course, with the offensive line, Coach Trey Taylor said. Just perhaps not where you might expect.
And then Taylor timed his entire team in the 40-yard dash. Mensah, now a junior, finished in 4.7 seconds, one of the fastest times on the team.
“I just couldn’t leave him at offensive guard,” Taylor said.
So Mensah moved to the backfield and there he stayed as South Lakes posted a 9-3 record. This season, the No. 20 Seahawks are off to a 5-0 start averaging 48.6 points per game. Mensah and Alston have run for 14 touchdowns.
Alston, who is committed to Ohio State to play lacrosse, has caught four more touchdown passes.
“Albert is like my right hand man when it comes to the offense,” Alston said. “With me and him on the field, it’s like thunder and lightning out there. We really keep defenses on their heels.”
Alston started at tailback as a freshman during South Lakes’ 2-8 campaign in 2014. On the freshman team, his vision as a runner stood out. He was athletically gifted beyond his years.
“I’m a big believer that running backs are more born than made,” Taylor said.
Three weeks into the season, he called Alston up to the varsity team. His first start, he ran 20 times for 151 yards. South Lakes still lost to Herndon, 49-0.
Mensah was the Seahawks’ middle linebacker on a defense that surrendered 40 points four times in 10 games.
There were some weeks that year, Mensah said, when he didn’t want to wear his jersey to school on Fridays, a long-time high school tradition.
“It kinda changed who I was,” he said. “People would look down on you. You couldn’t wear it with pride.”
That changed when Mensah moved to running back, he said, his favorite position from youth football. He was waiting for a chance to make a move into the backfield. The 40-yard dash gave him that opportunity.
Now Mensah pounds the ball between the tackles and Alston flies around on the perimeter. Mensah is Alston’s lead blocker. Alston is Mensah’s lead decoy.
“We look at each other and say, ‘This is something special and this is something that is going to take us real far,’ ” Mensah said.
And the Seahawks have another year to reach postseason heights with their backfield intact. Alston and Mensah are juniors.
“Being able to do what we’re doing right now,” Taylor said, “and then we’re going to have another year with them, it’s pretty inspiring.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 16
The number of seconds No. 15 Centreville led for in its upset of then-No. 5 Lake Braddock. Deonte Edmonds scored on a wild fumble-recovery, then Julian Garrett ran in a two-point conversion to give the Wildcats an 8-7 lead with a quarter of a minute to play. The score stuck.
- With a blocked punt and a two-point conversion, Centreville stuns Lake Braddock
- No. 1 DeMatha stuffs No. 2 St. John’s on late two-point try
- Blair continues perfect start with rare win over Paint Branch
- Sherwood continues its dominance over Northwest
- Oxon Hill rolls to a victory over Surrattsville
- Freedom-Woodbridge outlasts Hylton for its school-record fifth win
- Dakwandre Marshall leads Falls Church to conference win over Marshall
- Gage Herdman’s big plays help Flint Hill top St. Albans
PHOTOS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT
Here’s what the big No. 1 vs. No. 2 clash in Hyattsville looked like. . . .
MUST-WATCH VIDEO PART 1
DeMatha kept St. John’s out of the end zone on a late two-point conversion try to hang on for a win.
MUST-WATCH VIDEO PART 2
Travis Levy and No. 11 Sherwood ran through Northwest to keep the Warriors’ unbeaten streak alive.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
After a wild, upset-filled weekend, the AllMetSports Top 20 football rankings come out later this morning. Also, check back for rewinds of this weekend’s top stories from every region.