Friday, September 28, 2007

Running back playing major role in Londonderry’s Single Wing offense

Article published Sep 28, 2007
Numbers adding up for Theodhosi
Running back playing major role in Londonderry’s Single Wing offense

By Gary Fitz
Telegraph Staff

The apparatus has now become part of the legend. It's a 28-foot long rope that extends from floor to ceiling in a stairwell in the home of Londonderry running back Alex Theodhosi.

Installed by his father when Alex was in elementary school, it was the perfect way to build upper body strength for an athlete still too young to hit the weight room. It may help explain why Theodhosi owns the Londonderry High School record for chin-ups with an astounding 30.

Of course, the chin-up record pales in comparison to some of the other numbers Theodhosi is putting up this fall. There's 42 – the number of times he carried the ball in the Lancers' huge victory over Salem two weeks ago. That's a school record, too.

And there's 790 – the number of yards Theodhosi has gained in just four games this season, despite going for just 76 yards on 15 carries in the team's only loss, against Manchester West.

In the last two weeks Theodhosi has lugged the ball 67 times for 501 yards.

Want more numbers? How about 320 and 400, or Theodhosi's weight-room highs in the bench press and squat, respectively.

Perhaps the most surprising figure is 4.4. Twice last summer, including at a camp at Dartmouth College, Theodhosi was clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Some question the authenticity of the number, but Theodhosi has been consistently in the 4.5-4.6 range.

At a school that has mass-produced talented running backs since one and only coach Tom Sawyer brought the program to prominence in the mid-1980s, Theodhosi is on course to obliterate every single-season school record on the books.

Of course, Theodhosi has one big advantage over his predecessors, like the amazing Steve Miller in the late 1990s. In the Single Wing offense the school is running this fall, he takes a direct snap and lets his size, speed, power and 10 blocking teammates do the rest.

"It makes perfect sense to me,'' said Londonderry assistant coach Mike Bicchieri, an outstanding back in his own right from the Miller era. "Give the ball to the biggest, strongest, fastest kid with 10 guys blocking for him.''

Bicchieri says Theodhosi is the strongest and fastest running back he's ever seen in Londonderry. But it wasn't love at first sight.

"When I had him as a sophomore on the junior varsity, he was a little soft,'' Bicchieri said. "He was always hurt and missing practice.''

So Bicchieri, an obvious disciple of a very tough-minded head coach, gave him the Londonderry ultimatum.

"I got hurt one day and told him I couldn't practice,'' Theodhosi remembers. "He told me to take one day off, but when you come back tomorrow I don't want to hear that again.''

Injuries are part of football but so is injury prevention, and Theodhosi has attempted to make himself all but indestructible in the weight room.

"I've always liked to lift and I've always put a lot of emphasis on leg power,'' Theodhosi said. "When you have that power in your legs, the extra acceleration and explosiveness, it's easier to break tackles.''

Theodhosi has more going for him than power and speed. Another number that can't and shouldn't be overlooked is his grade point average, which is currently over 4.0. While he's busting tackles on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, he's cracking the books the rest of the week, with advanced placements courses this fall in calculus, statistics and environmental science.

The combination of football and academics has Theodhosi narrowing his college choices to the schools in the Ivy League and New England Small College Athletic Conference. He's already visited Bates and Bowdoin.

For someone so accomplished, you'd think people could at least spell his name right. But until a few weeks ago, when his name started to dominate the headlines, it was "Theodosi,'' in large part because it was misspelled on the team's official roster.

"I'm of Albanian descent and it's not a common name,'' Theodhosi said, "so I guess leaving out the extra H wasn't that big a deal. It's nice that people are starting to get it right.''

With the old spelling, Theodhosi said, some people thought he was Italian.

"Hey, it's right across the Adriatic Sea,'' Theodhosi said. "No big deal.''

Of course, he would know that.

© 2006, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hampshire

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