Canyon Del Oro junior running back Ka'Deem Carey was "finally healthy" entering the Dorados' season opener against Ironwood Ridge last Friday, according to head coach Dusty Peace.
Carey had nagging injuries each of the last two seasons, a by-product of what Peace terms as "running at a high level, like a sports car."
The junior, who also plays in the defensive backfield, looked more Land Rover than Ferrari against the Nighthawks on Friday, rushing for 190 yards on 25 carries, much of it coming on tough, in-between-the-tackles, in CDO's 27-13 win.
"He's just got natural instincts," said Ironwood Ridge head coach Matt Johnson.
Those instincts played a big role in one of the game's most important plays.
After a Nighthawk touchdown with 5:15 left in the half tied the game 7-7, Carey took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a score after bobbling the reception, putting the Dorados ahead for good.
"I was just so excited to get the kickoff, " said Carey with a smile. "I just wanted to hit the hole."
Carey made sure not to forget who makes the holes.
"Up front, the offensive line was the big key," he said. "They set great blocks and I just keyed off of them."
The fact that his near 300-yard performance came against one of CDO's biggest rivals was also not lost on the junior.
"The school was ready, my team just wanted to get at them," he said. "We came out with fire, they won two from us a couple years ago – we didn't want to have that feeling again."
With perennial powerhouse Santa Rita up next on the Dorados' schedule, Carey and CDO won't have much time to enjoy their opening success. The running back has a simple philosophy for the rest of the season.
"I don't really have personal goals," said Carey. "I just come out here and run hard, follow my blocks and let them guide me."