St. Augustine defensive tackle and part-time running back Isaiah Raikes is among the more coveted junior football players in South Jersey, with colleges showing great interest in his work on the defensive side.
At 6-foot-1 and 295 pounds, Raikes has great speed for a lineman. And it turns out it's not so bad for his second position — running back.
Raikes had a season-high 10 carries for 30 yards and scored on runs of 2 and 9 yards during St. Augustine's 27-14 win over Holy Spirit on Friday. It was the fourth win in a row for the 5-2 Hermits.
Raikes is not your basic plodding, 295-pound back. He can get to the outside, sometimes to the chagrin of coach Pete Lancetta.
"Sometimes he thinks he is Barry Sanders and wants to cut back," Lancetta said, laughing. "I want him to pound the thing."
He can also do that and in this game, with half a sack and plenty of pressure, he also didn't neglect his defensive duties.
"I love playing offense and running the ball," he said.
Of course, Raikes has no illusions. He understands that his future lies on defense. He has already received 12 scholarship offers, with more likely on the way.
"He has a great work ethic, is a great student and has quite a personality," Lancetta said. "He is special."
Among the schools that have made offers to him are Duke, Indiana, and Wake Forest.
"Recruiting has been a big task, but I am enjoying it," Raikes said.
What isn't so enjoyable is facing Raikes — on either side of the ball.
"He is a monster," said Holy Spirit coach A.J. Russo, who saw his 4-2 team have its four-game winning streak snapped. "On the offensive side of the ball, we don't have anybody half his size trying to make tackles on him. And you can't tackle him high — and we tried to do that often — but you have to tackle him low."
On the other side of the ball, he is even more dangerous.
"Defensively, they move him around a lot, they play him on the five [technique across from the offensive tackle], sometimes on the nose, and we were trying to find him and double-team him as much as we could," Russo said. "He is a good football player."
Raikes put the game away when his 9-yard TD run with 5 minutes, 18 seconds left ended the scoring. St. Augustine also got a 30-yard touchdown pass from Chris Allen to Justin Shorter and field goals of 32 and 27 yards from sophomore Luke Snyder.
This season, Raikes hasn't carried the ball much, with 23 carries for 85 yards and five touchdowns, but he liked the heavier duty on Friday.
"Anything to help the team," he said.
A Glassboro resident, Raikes said he has been playing running back since seventh grade. He likes to do more than just plow over people, although he's pretty intimidating doing that.
"I like running the ball all over the field," he said. "Not just short yardage when they send the whole house."
His 40 time?
"I have nice football speed," he said.
And he never lacks power, which is why he has earned the nickname "the Bowling Ball." The combination of speed and power makes him among the more interesting ballcarriers in South Jersey, one who puts no limits on what he can achieve.
Holy Spirit 8 0 6 0 – 14
St. Augustine 7 10 3 7 – 27
S: Justin Shorter 30 pass from Chirs Allen (Luke Snyder kick)
H: Isaiah Greena 4 pass from Ryan Yost (E'lijah Gray run)
S: Isaiah Riakes 2 run (Luke Snyder kick)
S: Snyder 32 FG
S: Luke Snyder 27 FG
H Mike Preston 19 pass from Yost (run failed)
S: Raikes 9 run (Snyder kick)