Jim Phelon, www.picmykid.com
RIVERTON — No matter the level, football coaches frequently talk about the importance of getting touches for their best athletes. The more they touch the ball, the more likely they are to make big plays.
A couple of weeks ago, Riverton coach Mike Miller came to the conclusion he wasn’t following that proven recipe for success.
In an effort to take advantage of Cameron Christensen on both sides of the ball, Miller had been rotating the junior on offense and utilizing him more on defense. After a 28-25 Week 4 loss to American Fork, Miller realized Christensen needed to be on the field offensively every snap.
Miller said Christensen was the program’s best running back a year ago as a sophomore, but a month into the 2013 season the ‘Wolves hadn’t been taking advantage of that skill set as he’d only been averaging 9.5 carries and 70.5 yards per game.
Miller did an about face on his philosophy after that American Fork loss.
“A couple weeks ago we just decided we’d spell him on defense instead, started utilizing him like I did back in the Olympus days and have one group of kids to get the timing down in the backfield and make it start working a little better,” said Miller
In the two games since the switch, Riverton’s offense has been lights out.
In Week 5, Christensen carried the ball 20 times for 133 yards in a 31-14 victory over Lone Peak.
Last week, Christensen was even better in a 38-7 rout of Pleasant Grove, rushing for a career-high 204 yards and two touchdowns on a whopping 31 carries. His yardage total was the most by a Riverton back since Joey Jensen rushed for 212 yards in the Silverwolves' season opener back in 2011.
“He’s a good kid, very good kid. Great leader, good athlete, very good student,” said Miller, whose team is now 5-1 heading into Friday’s game against Lehi.
After Pleasant Grove capitalized on an opening drive fumble by Riverton for a 7-0 lead, Christensen responded with some big runs and then tied the game at 7-7 on a 1-yard score.
With Riverton clinging to a 10-7 halftime lead, Christensen broke the game open for a good with a 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter — part of 38 unanswered points by Riverton.
“The kids just played well. We noticed a few things in the first half and made a few adjustments at halftime, and the kids executed,” said Miller.
Christensen was at the heart of it all.
His success makes you wonder what might’ve happened in Week 4 had Riverton’s coaches given him 31 carries instead of just 13. It might not have made a difference against a quality American Fork team, but the last two weeks have proved that when Christensen gets more touches, good things happen for Riverton.
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