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Running Back Tom Medina
By Paul Paterra

Even if everything remained status quo for Brentwood High School running back Tom Medina, he would have brought some impressive credentials into this season.

He gained 1,400 yards last season - his second as a starter - on 256 carries, and scored 15 touchdowns.

But this year's version of Tom Medina is even better. He's bigger and faster, and he's creating havoc for opposing defenses.

Through the Spartans first four games this season, Medina has carried the ball 124 times for a WPIAL-leading 889 yards.

Friday night, Medina toted the pigskin 45 times for 265 yards and two touchdowns, as Brentwood outlasted Chartiers-Houston 31-28 in a Class A Ohio Valley Conference battle. The win raised the Spartans record to 4-0.

"Tom's doing everything we've asked of him," said Brentwood coach Kevin Kissel. "He's having a heck of a year so far."

Medina - who stands 5-10 -added 30 pounds in the off-season to raise his weight to 215 pounds. Kissel said Medina was one of the Spartans leaders in the team's winter weight programs.

"I just wanted to get bigger and stronger," Medina explained. "I wanted to be faster and run people over more, instead of trying to run away from them. I just hit the weights hard. I figured it was my last year of high school football; I might as well work hard for it. It's paid off so far."

"He really got into it," Kissel added. "I guess he's never really lifted hard in his life. These last couple of years, especially last winter, he dedicated himself to the weight room."

Medina dedicated himself so well, that when the team elected captains during the workouts, he was one of those picked.

The increased size has done wonders for him as a running back. But Medina not only came into the season stronger; he's faster, improving his speed to 4.8 in the 40.

"He's not being tackled by one player any more," Kissel said. "It takes a host of tacklers to bring him down. With the extra weight, I don't think he lost any speed. In fact, I think he's faster."

That extra strength has helped him to become the essence of the word workhorse, as displayed by the 45 carries he received against Chartiers-Houston. Kissel admits he likes to get the ball in Medina's hands as often as possible. His 256 carries last year were among the most in the WPIAL, and he is averaging 31 carries a game this season.

"It seems like the more I get the ball, the better I do," Medina said. "I like seeing the defense wear down and then keep pounding them."

There is another factor that has been quite beneficial to Medina this season. The Spartans returned all five starters from last season's offensive line.

Also on hand again is fullback Corey Dethrone, who checks in at 6-1, 225 pounds and is considered a Division I prospect.

"They're opening up some real nice holes for me," Medina admitted.

Not only is it important that Medina has these skilled blockers creating paths through which he can travel, but the familiarity he has with this group is also vital. They've been playing together for many years.

"I've played with a lot of them since I was 7 or 8 (years old)," Medina said. "Now we just kind of work off each other. Everybody knows what they're doing."

Medina, especially, knows what he's doing and what he wants to do. His goal coming into the season was to amass 1,000 yards by the fifth or sixth game. Simple math shows that that should take place since he is just 111 yards away from that mark.

Medina has not heard from a large amount of colleges thus far. Schools such as Shippensburg, Gannon, and East Stroudsburg have made contact. However, the celestial numbers produced by Medina so far this season could make him a bit more attractive to a host of other institutions of higher learning.

Medina admits he does have his eye on playing football at the collegiate level. "Ever since I was little, I wanted to [play college football]," Medina said. "Now I'm going to get to…hopefully."