March 31, 2008

Count Duplessis among state's best

When talking about O. Perry Walker running back Tyrone Duplessis, Chargers head coach Derek "Skip" LaMothe lights up and talks on and on. And it's not just about how talented he is on the field, but also how good Duplessis is away from the field.

"He's disciplined, easy to coach and a hard worker," LaMothe said. "He's just a good kid who does the right thing. He's a great character kid. The big thing is the bigger the game, the better he is."

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Duplessis is solidly built, but his strength is his ability to make tacklers miss. He combines good speed (4.61 electronic 40) with outstanding quickness and agility. His vision is what sets him apart.

"He just has great vision," LaMothe said. "The play can be going one way, but then he cuts it back for a big game. You don't really realize just how good he is until you really watch his film. Once he took a handoff and at the same time made an amazing cut. I mean, how do you do that, two things at the same time?"

LaMothe tells one story about when he was the offensive coordinator years ago at OPW and Frank Wilson - now an assistant at Southern Miss - was head coach. They first got a glimpse of Duplessis when he was 9 years old.

"We were like, man, that kid is good," LaMothe said. "Back then Wilson was licking his chops about what we could do with him. He's still licking his chops."

Duplessis has not disappointed since those early days. Last season he racked up 2,104 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns along with all-state honors.

A good chunk of Duplessis' yardage came during an amazing playoff run. He rushed for near or more than 200 yards in the first three victories of the playoffs. The Chargers went a modest 6-4 in the regular season, but then beat Northside (28-21), Teurlings Catholic (41-24) and Holy Cross (20-0) in the playoffs before falling to Shaw (19-13) in the semis.

"The playoff run was a team effort and one player can't necessarily dominate a game," LaMothe said. "But against Teurlings Catholic he rushed 23 times for 287 yards and five touchdowns. He also kicked six of seven extra points and had five of seven kickoffs go for touchbacks. On the first play of the game he threw a 20-yard pass. He then ran for a 45-yard touchdown, he kicked the extra point and then kicked it in the end zone."

College teams have known about Duplessis for a while now. LaMothe said last spring Mississippi State said it would likely offer and with Wilson at Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles are very interested. Louisiana Tech's Terry Joseph recently requested video LaMothe said, as did Chris Wilson at Oklahoma, which has several OPW players on the roster.


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