With the second-leading returning rusher out for the first five games, All Saints needed someone to step up.
In stepped Brice Borgeson, who has done more than just become the second-leading runner.
Borgeson, a 6-2, 190-pound freshman fullback and linebacker, leads the team in tackles and is more than making up for the absence of senior Hale Buckley, whom he replaced on offense and defense.
With Buckley now healthy, the two are trying to lead All Saints (4-4, 1-2 TAPPS Div. III-District 2) through a two-game road stretch to end the season, starting tonight at Irving The Highlands (1-7, 0-3). Kickoff is 7:30 at The Highlands Stadium.
“(Borgeson) took it right in stride,” said All Saint coach Bret Atkins of his freshman stepping into the lineup. “He has a desire to be a great football player and the work ethic to be a great football player. We didn’t miss a beat.”
Borgeson immediately made an impact for the Trojans, scoring two touchdowns in the season opener against Carrollton Christian Academy. His 19-yard run to paydirt was the game winner.
The rookie now has five touchdowns and averages 46.4 yards per game, including two 90-plus games. He trails only senior quarterback John Norton (766 yards, nine touchdowns) in rushing production.
“Our line’s opening up holes for me,” he said.
Borgeson, who’s tied with two other freshmen as the tallest player on the team, has shown strength and power at fullback while also exhibiting vision and break-away speed. He sprinted 52 yards for a touchdown against T.K. Gorman.
“(He has) all those things you look for in a fullback runner,” Atkins said. “He’s a strong kid, he accelerates very well and he’s got top-end speed.”
On defense, Borgeson has 67 tackles, 10 more than Norton in second. The linebacker nabbed an interception against Fort Worth Temple Christian and recovered a fumble against Burkeville.
“To play linebacker you’ve got to have good instinct; he can sniff the ball out,” Atkins said. “He has good instincts to find the football.”
Borgeson said he prefers to play defense over offense, something he’s done more of with Buckley’s return to the lineup. He added that he enjoys hitting people, saying at linebacker he can just “read and go.”
Buckley has remained an important player for the Trojans. The senior scored the game-tying two-point conversion in All Saints’ 22-20 overtime win over Dallas Shelton last week.
“He’s one of our captains and leaders; he wants what’s best for the team,” Atkins said of Buckley. “He’ll do whatever it takes to help us win football games. He’s productive. He’s a big player for us, important for us.”
Borgeson’s emergence began last year in eighth grade and through work outs with his dad, said Atkins, who added that he recognized the ability of Borgeson while watching him play in middle school.
“I saw him dominate eighth grade games,” Atkins said. “He was a man amongst boys. He stepped up and got used to the pace of the (varsity) game.”
Borgeson said hard work and the strong efforts of his team have helped him succeed as a freshman and overcome any learning curve on varsity.
“Everything’s different,” he said. “It’s faster, it’s bigger, people are stronger.”
The best part, for All Saints, is that Borgeson will be around for three more years. Atkins said he’s a rare talent who will only improve with experience.
“I’m excited to see what he’s going to turn into and what kind of football player he’s going to turn into three years down the road,” Atkins said. “He hasn’t reached his potential yet. I think he’s going to be a great one.”