One type of treatment has been very effective in dealing with Columbus North tailback Josh Holt’s sprained knee.
The treatment is Tyler Wang.
As the Bull Dogs prepare for Friday’s rivalry game against Columbus East, perhaps the biggest question facing either team is whether Holt will play or whether Wang, a junior, will replace him again.
Holt is a slam-bam running back who puts the power into North’s power rushing game. But he missed the opener at Plainfield due to an injury he suffered in a scrimmage.
Now Holt, North head coach Tim Bless and the team’s medical staff have an important decision to make. Should Holt play against the powerful Olympians in a game that, indeed, is one of the most important to the players, and yet is a non-conference matchup? Or should he give his knee another week to rest with the thought that it is a long season?
The stress of that decision lessened a bit Friday when backup junior tailback Tyler Wang rushed for 118 yards on 24 carries.
“Awesome,” Bless said of Wang’s first starting effort. “We were confident Tyler was going to play great football. He has been an outstanding sub for us. We have confidence he is going to get the job done and obviously it all starts up front with the defensive line.”
A season ago, Wang showed signs that he could be an effective varsity running back. Although he doesn’t have sprinter speed, he has excellent quickness and the ability to make defenders miss.
He played as a sophomore at 165 pounds, so it looked like he would be a change-of-pace type of back who would spell Holt on occasion and give defenses a different look. He was the shifty, quick back who would attack the edge.
On Friday in the 28-13 win over Plainfield, Wang appeared to have developed into a different kind of back.
The 24 carries were a more important number than the 118 yards he gained. Wang proved he could take the punishment.
Last season, he suffered from ankle injuries and carried just 13 times for 59 yards.
“I gained a lot of muscle,” Wang said. “My squat went up a lot and that really helps trying to get through the defenders. I can move easily now and ‘truck’ through them.”
Wang is more than 180 pounds as a junior and he grew an inch to 5-foot-8. He said his vision is better when he scans for the holes and his strength allows him to bang away when they aren’t there.”
He knows he doesn’t have the power of the 195-pound Holt, but he wants to do whatever he can to help the Bull Dogs until the team captain returns.
“Josh Holt is an amazing player,” Wang said. “He is our captain and our leader. It’s always bad to see your captain go down. I had to fill in there and take responsibility for the first game.”
That being said, Wang said he feels confident that he can run in a style similar to Holt, banging up the middle and gaining the tough yards.
“I’ve always practiced like I was the varsity starting back,” Wang said. “But I do feel a little more pressure now. In my varsity debut, I wanted to do well.”
With a 100-yard-plus effort behind him, Wang could get the dream start against the Olympians on Friday at Columbus North High School.
One thing is certain, the North coaching staff knows it has a viable option if Holt can’t play.