SERGEANT BLUFF – It worked to near perfection on the Blue Oval at the state track meet. Now it is time to see how fast it transitions to the football field.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s running back trio of seniors Britton Delperdang and Zach Shultz and junior Jorma Schwedler made up three-fourths of the Warriors’ 4x200 state relay team that finished as the runner-up this spring. They also blazed away from the field to win the 4x400 title before a rule infraction led to a disqualification, but anyone there saw the pure speed they possess knows it is going to give opposing defenses plenty to think about this fall.
“That is very exciting,” said Delperdang of the possibilities of having three speed burners in the backfield. “We have thought about that too and it is exciting. Speed is a crucial part of football and that is one advantage we have. I don’t know how much we talked about it, but it is in all of our heads for sure.”
Delperdang was the workhorse of the group last season racking up 1,608 yards on 210 carries and 18 touchdowns for an SB-L team that went perfect in the regular season and bowed out in the second round of the playoffs to conclude a 10-1 season.
Delperdang piled up the yards last season but just bring up Schwedler’s name and he doesn’t need the question to be finished before jumping in with his analysis.
“That kid is a stud,” he said.
Schwedler battled injury last season that limited his time on the field, but his state track performance showed the pure speed he possesses. The 5-foot-9, 150-pounder won the Class 3A 200-meter title in 21.72, the second fastest time at the state meet regardless of class, and finished second in the 100 in 10.93.
“Running the football there is nothing I enjoy more than that,” said Schwedler, who ran for 121 yards on 22 carries as a sophomore. “Last year I wasn’t able to play most of the season due to a surgery on my shoulder, but I am really excited to be back.
“(Missing most of the season) really did suck and when I was back I really didn’t weigh enough to play halfback that much. I just used my speed on special teams.”
Schwedler, who has added a good amount of weight to his frame for the season, hopes to display his speed this season, but he is also aware that all of the running backs need to have another element on full display to enjoy a strong season.
“You can be as fast as you want but you also have to be aggressive or you get smeared out there,” he said. “We have a lot of skilled players we just have to pump up our aggressiveness.”
Each of the runners brings a little something different as far as personality to the backfield that was on display during Saturday's metro football media day which leads to an interesting mix.
“Britton is definitely the goofball, Zach is probably the most serious and I am probably in between,” Schwedler said. “The goofball part keeps it fun, but the seriousness also keeps us intact and keeps us focused.”
Shultz, who ran for 316 yards and three scores in 2017, believes that playing other sports with Delperdang and Schwedler has only helped their bond.
“We have a friendship with the three of us and that goes for our whole team,” he said. “We spend a lot of time together.”
As good as the running backs can be the Warriors will hardly be one-dimensional on offense as junior quarterback Daniel Wright returns after throwing for 1,608 yards and 20 touchdowns a season ago. He protected the ball well with just three interceptions and will make the SB-L offense that much harder to deal with.
Don’t expect any of the trio of backs to buckle under the pressure of playing the position that has been one of the glamor ones in the metro in recent years. Matt George posted back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons in 2014 and 2015 before Delperdang went for 1,678 yards last season.
“We have an amazing coach in coach (Justin) Smith and he puts all of us in great positions,” Delperdang said. “We are battling it out honestly and that is great because that makes us better and better each day.”
Corey Bates, a junior, is the fourth running back who could see some time running the ball and Delperdang said he should not be overlooked.
“He has got heart and I like watching him play,” he said.
There is a good chance that is what a lot of Sergeant Bluff-Luton fans say a lot this season about of their running backs.