Lake Norman & Mooresville

Running back solidifies Devils' game

Mooresville's Dee Tomlin learned to play football around his neighborhood growing up.

The senior running back still uses that "street" style today.

"In backyard football there's no mercy. You have to go out and give it all you can," said Tomlin.

That mentality seems to be paying off for the senior, as he had rushed for 769 yards and nine touchdowns heading into Oct. 14's game at Hough.

The 5-foot-5, 185-pounder is a hard-nosed runner, who uses his strength to bounce off defenders and get extra yardage.

Mooresville coach Hal Capps said he knows he can rely on his running back.

"He has the ability to get us the yards that we need," Capps said. "If it's third-and-five, he's going to get us six, seven. He's going to find a way, his heart's so big that he's going to will himself to get to that point."

Capps said Tomlin is also a leader.

"If he sees things he doesn't like, that people aren't hustling or whatever, he don't hesitate to jump on them," the coach said.

Tomlin also pushes his teammates whether he's in the weight room or on the football field. Capps explained that the senior has his teammates' attention because he's highly respected by them.

"He's earned their trust," said Capps. "They know that he's going out and giving 100 percent every day, every play."

After simply being a role player last season, Tomlin said he's been able to step up for his Devils after putting in hard work in the offseason.

In addition to getting in better shape after speed training, he said he's gotten stronger. But Tomlin explained that he's still a "work in progress" - that he could get faster and become a better blocker in the Blue Devil option spread offense.

Tomlin along with quarterback Deonte Black, who led the team in rushing yards with 942 before the Hough game, have become a dangerous one-two punch on the ground for Mooresville.

While Tomlin is more of a bruiser, Black is the more speedy and finesse runner of the two.

Tomlin said he and Black help each other, not only blocking when the other runs, but also keeping each other focused.

"It's a big help, a big relief to have him there with me," Tomlin said.

Having two players capable of breaking out for big runs keeps opposing defense guessing.

"It's actually a big threat," said Tomlin. "You don't know who's going to get it."

Tomlin doesn't mind that his quarterback is getting more carries than he is per game, he just wants what's best for the Blue Devils.

"It don't matter how many yards I get," said Tomlin. "As long as I do what I'm supposed to do and help the team come out with a win, it doesn't really matter."

The 18-year-old, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry before the Hough game, has had several big games this season, including a 196-yard performance against South Mecklenburg early in the year and a five-touchdown game against West Charlotte last month.

Tomlin and Black, who had thrown for 600 yards and four touchdowns through the team's first eight games, have had the help of receivers Justin Jones and Shawn Lester as well as a talented offensive line.

On defense, the Blue Devils are led by a talented group highlighted by linebackers Scott Markofski and Antonio Vanderburg as well as linemen Deandre Coleman and Charles Wilkes.

Capps said he's happy with his teams' 6-2 start (3-1 in the I-Meck), although he added that his team needed to reduce mental errors that allowed West Charlotte and Hopewell to stay in games despite being outplayed early by the Blue Devils.

He added that he hopes his team is able to finish second in the conference, behind nationally-ranked Mallard Creek, and get Mooresville's first 4A playoff win.

Tomlin said he thinks his team is capable of that and more because of the talent and chemistry the team possesses, explaining that he and his teammates grew up together.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, Tomlin wants to give his "family" all he has left.

"I'll just pretend like I have no conscience," he said. "Just explode."