Outside of the pinball like statistics put up by De LaSalle's Evan Williams one of the most remarkable nights of the 2009 football season happened Homecoming night in Coon Rapids. The Cardinals had been struggling through the first part of the season, but all of that ended for at least one night. Sophomore runningback Antonio Ford had the kind of night most runners never see. He had the game of a lifetime.
Prior to Coon Rapid's homecoming game the Cardinals were struggling at 0-4. They would end the season a disappointing 2-7, but against Elk River they were unstoppable, especially Ford. By the end of the night Ford had carried the ball forty times, scored five touchdowns and ran for a school record 368 yards. The rushing performance set a school record and was the twenty second best single game performance in the state's history.
The ground work for Ford's historic night was set the week before.
"Throughout the week we worked more with the I-Formation because we started to have some success with it the week before against Andover," said Ford. "When we went to the pro-style we started pounding them pretty hard and it was working. When we got to Elk River, especially since the weather was pretty bad we just stuck with the run game and it ended up working pretty well."
This winter the soon to be junior hit the weight room.
"I have been focusing on my legs doing a lot of power lifting. I have been doing a lot of explosive lifting like power clean. This year I have to be prepared for what is coming up next. I know people are after me."
"We usually do high weight and less reps. Each set we try to move up the weight but still do the same amount of reps."
He has been working at Velocity to prevent something that Ford felt happened too much as a sophomore.
"I have been working on my speed and my breakaway speed. That is my main focus this year because I had a lot of breakaway runs and I don't want to get caught from behind as much as last year."
Once in the open field, Ford still sees room to improve.
"I want to work on my vision. When I get past the offensive line I really need to work on reading the defensive backs and making my cuts downfield."
This summer Ford has been to a Football University camp, the Ultimate 100 Invite, camps at Minnesota, Iowa State, North Dakota and will be going to a Top Gun camp in Virginia later in the summer.
"I feel like the camps went well. The coaches have been telling me that I have a lot of potential and that they are going to keep an eye on me this year."
One of the things Ford had picked up at the camps is how to become a more efficient runner.
"They taught me how to stop taking false steps and making the right read steps. Last season I took a lot of false steps."
In 2010 the Cardinals will be returning a number of key contributors from last season, especially at the skill positions. They lose basically their entire offensive line, but if they can shore that unit up Ford and his team should be set up for a much better year.
As Ford continues to grow and gain more experience, he is sure to have more memorable days on the football field. Maybe not quite like Homecoming his sophomore year - but more team victories and personal glory are sure to follow.