Charger comes up big on both sides of the ball

Diron Chloe doesn't like to come off the football field.

When Cox Mill plays, the junior doesn't get to leave the gridiron often, starting on both sides of the ball at fullback on offense and middle linebacker on defense.

Heading into last Friday's game at A.L. Brown, Chloe had rushed for 585 yards and nine touchdowns while making 14 solo tackles.

In most games, the junior is on the field for 80 plays, sitting out a little bit on offense and on most special-teams plays.

"Starting both ways is definitely tough at times," said Chloe. "But I like to be in on every play if I can. For my team, I just have to do it. That's just the way it is."

On offense, Chloe is the dive man in the Charger's option attack, meaning he either gets the ball or gets hit hard as a decoy. But when Chloe gets the ball, he usually makes something happen: He averages seven yards per carry and 99 yards per game.

Chloe has already had two monster games, rushing for 183 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-21 win over Piedmont, then following that up with a 167-yard, two-touchdown effort in a 33-20 win against Mount Pleasant.

"What stands out about Diron is that he is a very intelligent player, no matter what position he is playing," said Cox Mill football coach Greg Neuendorf. "Playing both ways is as much mental as it is physical. Diron has the ability to make big plays on both positions. That is why he starts both ways for us."

Chloe is just a piece of a Cox Mill running attack that had produced 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns in the first six games of the season, an average of more than 244 yards per game.

Senior quarterback Arrick Hincher (292 yards rushing, three touchdown runs) directs the option offense, while senior running back Avery VanTull (498 yards, three touchdown runs) is also a big part of the offense. Receivers Evan Mojtabai and Ike Washington also get into the act at times.

"When our offense gets going, it is very hard to stop," said Chloe. "We have so many weapons who can get the ball on every play that is hard to figure out where the ball is going."

While Chloe, Hincher and VanTull get a lot of the credit, a more underrated quartet is also a big part of the running game's success.

Juniors Colby Gunter and Matt Jean-Gilies as well as seniors Dexter Moss and Matt Tucker have all started on the Chargers' line for the last three years, since the Cox Mill program's inception in 2009.

"Any time you have three-year starters on the offensive line, they are a huge key to your success," said Neuendorf. "We have four guys that have done that for us. That (continuity) is huge for our running game."

Gunter, Giles, Moss and Tucker plowed the way for more than 2,715 yards rushing last year, mostly by senior fullback Jhaquille Hankerson (1,783 yards rushing and 24 touchdown runs). But they are on a record-breaking pace this year.

"Our offensive philosophy is that we want to run the ball, get chunks of yardage, run the clock and keep the ball away from our opponents," Neuendorf said. "I think our style can be a very frustrating for our opponents."

Cox Mill's style has also helped the Chargers to improve rapidly, going from 1-10 in 2009 to 6-6 last year to a 5-1 record heading into the game against the Wonders, including 2-0 in the South Piedmont conference.

"We have put ourselves in a position to challenge for a conference title if we can get through the meat of our schedule with some wins," said Neuendorf, whose team plays Concord, Jay M. Robinson, Central Cabarrus and Northwest Cabarrus in the next month.

If Cox Mill is going to challenge for an SPC title, Chloe will be in the middle of a lot of their success. The Chargers' junior two-way standout wouldn't have it any other way.

"I like to be on the field as much as possible," he said. "I like both running back and linebacker, because you get to hit people. But if I had to pick (a favorite), I'd probably pick running back, because you get to score touchdowns."