Arroyo Grande running back Joey DeLaRosa doesn’t like to give the competition an inch — even if it’s revealing which of his feet has suffered a nagging turf toe injury that kept him out of a Sept. 18 loss to Camarillo.
Despite the ache, DeLaRosa pounded his way to 78 yards rushing with two rushing scores, and a 14-yard touchdown catch, setting a physical tone early on in a dominant 41-7 Aroyo Grande win Friday over a previously undefeated St. Joseph squad (4-1).
Arroyo Grande (4-1) matches up against Nipomo this Friday before they open league play at home against Paso Robles on Oct. 9.
“I’m not going to say which foot it is,” DeLaRosa said after Friday’s nonleague drubbing. “I don’t want to give the competition anything they can use against me.”
DeLaRosa often dragged two or three Knights defenders with him for hard-fought, extra yards. Rarely was he taken down on a tackler’s first attempt, averaging about 7 yards per carry on bruising, bulldozing runs.
Arroyo Grande Coach Tom Goossen acknowledged that the absence of his 6-foot, 230-pound running back in the 27-13 loss to Camarillo was an issue.
“Anytime you lose 3-year varsity starter like him, it’s going to have an impact,” Goossen said. “. …Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be a nagging injury for him the rest of the year. But he’s young.”
Still, DeLaRosa said his toe felt “1,000 times better” in Friday’s win that it had the week before, helped by ice, rest and elevation.
He credits the offensive line for creating openings on “all of my runs” against St. Joseph.
Goossen deployed deceptive fake hand-offs to shiftier backs, such as Bradley Mickey and Alex Cecchi, freeing up downhill runs for De la Rosa, who rarely tries to avoid tacklers — instead putting fear into them.
“Joey set the tone early,” said offensive lineman Isaiah White. “He really got us going. If we get games like that out of him all season, we’re going to be doing fine.”
White, who stands 6-2 and weighs 265 pounds and plays both sides of the ball, said he put on 40 pounds of weight in the offseason. White joins a front that includes Josh Day, at 6-3, 265, as well as Josh Domako, at 6-1, 260.
Goossen said each of the three played well and helped push the Knights’ line back to allow the Eagles to run wild, tallying 292 total rushing yards.
Asked to make a prediction about the season, DeLaRosa only will allow “If we keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be fine.”
White, however, makes no bones about it — “the goal is to win CIF.”
“But we have to take it one game at a time,” White said.
Goossen, ever the motivator, said his squad still has plenty of room for improvement, noting work still needs to be done to get ready for league play.
“I have always said that the hallmark of a good team is that they’re better by the end of the season than they are in the beginning,” Goossen said. “This is a process. We have to be focused on our next game. We have to prepare and go after it.”