With 383 rushing yards in three games, Jordan Ross has been astoundingly productive for a sophomore.
But the ‘Iolani running back has played just one half in two of his team’s three games. The result is just 33 carries and an absurd 11.6 yards per attempt. The state record for rushing yards in one season belongs to Kahuku’s Mark Atuaia, who had 2,025 yards in 1990.
Since ‘Iolani plays one fewer game this season than it did last year, Ross would have to average 205.3 yards per game in the last eight contests to tie Atuaia’s mark. Those are heady projections for a talented sophomore, who came into the season better prepared than ever.
“During the summer, we went through Coach (Dominic) Ahuna’s grueling six-week strength and condition program,” Ross said in an email. “He gets us all in top playing shape, and all the things we do on the field are a result of his incredible efforts to better us physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Longer term, at a current pace of 127.7 yards per game, if Ross remains healthy and plays 11 games per season, he could finish with 4,213 career yards. That would put him ahead of legendary names like Atuaia and Punahou’s Mosi Tatupu. But the all-time career mark belongs to ‘Iolani’s Joe Igber with 4,472 yards.
Igber got his engineering degree at Cal, and spurned offers to play pro football in favor of pursuing his career. He is currently an engineer in the Bay Area, and he’s aware of Ross’ production and the YouTube highlights he’s compiled.
Igber was a compact, explosive athlete who, at 5-6, played on the basketball team and regularly dunked in warmups — back when dunking was allowed in pregame.
“When I was there (at ‘Iolani), there was no YouTube,” Igber said by phone on Saturday. “But I’m happy to see there’s excitement again. I hope he can keep his academics together.”
Being at ‘Iolani, Igber added, was a huge reason why his first year at Berkeley was a breeze. It was all about preparation, being teachable and coachable.
“Coach (Wendell) Look said, ‘Just play as a team. We win together. We lose together. We were small. Uriah Moenoa was the only one on the offensive line bigger than me,” Igber recalled. “We were a small school where you knew everybody. When Coach said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose unless you play together,’ I used to laugh. I wanted to win. But now I know it is true. You can’t play forever. Football teaches you character.”
There have been talented ballcarriers over the years since Igber’s heyday. Raynold Stowers rushed for 261 yards against Pac-Five in 2002 and has three of the top 10 all-time rushing games on the Raiders list. Stowers was a tall back with long strides and breakaway speed. It’s Ross who is more similar to Igber in so many ways.
It’s a lot to expect if the comparisons continue. Ross has a path of his own to carve out, on and off the field.
“Oh, he has a lot of improvement he can make,” Look said. “He’s a very gifted runner, but he’ll work on his blocking and his understanding of the little things, becoming a student of the game, watching more film, those will come with time.”
Jordan Ross’ 2012 season highlights