Pick your poison; Cayuga's dangerous 1-2 punch
BETHEL - Cayuga head coach Tommy Allison figured he would have one 2,000-yard rusher this season.
He never expected he would have a pair of 2,000-yard runners.
Heading into the Class A, Division II state championship game, Cayuga running back Traylon Shead and quarterback Malcome Kennedy both have surpassed the 2,000 yard mark.
"We never knew what to expect when Malcome moved to quarterback," Allison said. "It was a totally new position for him."
It is no surprise that Shead had his third 2,000 yard season as he became one of the best running backs in Class A. But the addition of Kennedy to the backfield has given the Wildcats one of the most dangerous 1-2 backfield punches in the game.
The backfield combination has led Cayuga to rushing for 366 yards a game and in five playoffs games, that number has ballooned to 441 rushing yards a game.
"It has been very nice to have two backs that are a threat anytime they touch the ball," Allison said. "They are both strong, fast runners and each of them has the ability to do something special when the ball is in their hands."
Shead has rushed for 2,552 yards and 37 touchdowns, averaging 9.59 yards a carry. Kennedy eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark last week as he has 2,116 yards and 23 touchdowns. He averages 11.5 yards each time he carries the ball.
"Malcome gives us another dimension," Shead said. "It has helped take a lot of eyes off me."
Kennedy was an all-state wide receiver last year but made the move to quarterback after the graduation of Broc January.
"At first I don't think Malcome was real excited about the move, but he saw what it would do for the overall good of the team," Allison said. "He always is going to do what is best for the team."
Kennedy thought the move to quarterback would help him become more of a team leader heading into his senior season.
"I knew it was for the betterment of the team and I felt like it was my responsibility to do that," the Cayuga quarterback said. "Plus I felt like it allowed me to be more vocal as a leader."
It took a little time for Shead and Kennedy to both have big games in the run department. Through the first seven games, the duo rushed for 100 yards in the same game only twice.
But since then, they both have gone for over 100 yards in seven straight games.
"It just took some time for Malcome to get used to the position and for our offensive line to get better as a unit," Allison said. "As we got into district and the playoffs, our offensive line has done a better job and we have gotten great blocking from our wide receivers. That has opened up the holes and allowed for big plays by Traylon and Malcome."
Kennedy's development as a running threat has taken pressure and the work load off of Shead. Shead has more than 100 carries less than last year, which has helped keep him fresher and allowed him to play more on defense.
"Traylon does not have nearly the miles on his legs that he did last year and that has helped us," Allison said.
Last season, Shead had four games with more than 30 carries, including a 50-plus carry game in the playoffs. But this season, he only has one game with over 30 carries, in which he had 320 yards on 31 carries against Lovelady in the playoffs. In that same game, Kennedy had 220 yards as the backfield duo combined for all but 63 yards of Cayuga's offense in the win.
In the playoffs, Kennedy is averaging 202 yards a game with 11 touchdowns and Shead is averaging 200 yards a game and 14 touchdowns.
"They are two incredible athletes," Cayuga offensive lineman, and Traylon Shead's twin brother, Tramon said. "Malcome brought this offense to another level because no longer teams can just key on Traylon."