Replacing the hard-nosed fullback Seth Carbaugh had been a big question for James Buchanan's football team.
But the Rockets may have found the answer Friday night.
Although sophomore Cormac Houpt has a much different style than his predecessor, he certainly made a statement in the season opener against Hanover. He finished with nearly 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and he is the Public Opinion Male Athlete of the Week.
"I wasn't expecting any of that at all," Houpt said. "We all just came in with the mindset that we wanted to win, and we wanted to turn James Buchanan around. I wanted to do my part with that."
James Buchanan didn't win Friday (55-36 defeat) , but the Rockets and Houpt did show signs of turning a corner. After going down 30-0 in the first quarter, the Rockets picked up their offensive game and scored more than twice as many points as it did all of last season.
"We hung in there together, and we were fortunate enough to get some nice runs from Cormac," JB coach Andy Stoner said. "He made some nice plays, and he's got the speed to do that. He gave us some momentum, or it could've really gotten ugly."
Houpt's biggest momentum boost came in the second quarter when he gained 70 yards on a single carry. His 194 total yards came on just 10 carries.
"I didn't even know it was 70 yards; I thought it was just a 50-yarder," Houpt said. "It was a really small hole I was supposed to go through, but I found a larger opening. I got into the backfield and just all-out sprinted."
While Houpt had a breakout debut, he knows there is still work to be done, especially as the fullback the Rockets hope to center their offense around.
"Will he be able to put through two or three yards when we need a first down?" Stoner said, "I don't know yet. But to have that top-end speed, I'm very pleased with that because we didn't have that at all last year. Hopefully he can grow into the role of doing both."
At least Houpt is on the right rack.
Cormac Houpt, James Buchanan
Size: 5-foot-10, 177 pounds
Parents: Jason and Rachel Houpt
Other interests: Cormac also runs track for the Rockets.
Favorite team: Steelers, Penguins, "all around Pittsburgh."
Athlete most admired: Walter Payton
Surprising fact: If Houpt hears about an opponent on the field, he tries to avoiding looking up that player's statistics or game film.
Statistics: In his varsity debut, Houpt gained 192 yards on just 10 carries, by far the most yards for a running back in Franklin County in Week 1. He also scored a pair of touchdowns.