By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
Demontez Miller-Gray may have a quiet demeanor, but his play on the football field has been doing some serious talking this season.
The soft-spoken Mt. Vernon running back has racked up more than 1,000 yards this season. He eclipsed the mark against rival Centralia and enters the Rams opening round postseason game later this week with 1,085 on the season. He's scored a dozen touchdowns as well.
It's an explosive total for Miller-Gray, who saw sparing varsity playing time at the end of his sophomore season. Joel Rush is the all-time career record holder with 2,503 yards. It's a mark Miller-Gray is aiming for.
“I'm hoping to go for that all-time rushing (record),” Miller-Gray said. “It makes me feel good. I'm getting closer to achieving that goal.”
Mt. Vernon coach Jared Shaner said he consciously tries to get Miller-Gray numerous touches throughout the game because of his ability to break apart a defense on a single run.
“That's one thing I've had to adjust to,” Shaner said. “He's a very good running back, probably one of the best I've ever had, and I need to make an effort to make sure he's touching the ball 15, 18 times a game.”
Few teams have been able to contain Miller-Gray. He's rolled past 100 yards in nearly every regular season game. Marion held him to 85 yards and last week Mt. Carmel bottled him up for 51.
Miller-Gray is part of a deep Rams running back core that provides the team with a variety of critical attributes behind a line that opens holes and provides opportunities for gaining ground.
“They've blocked really hard,” Miller-Gray said. “You see it on film. It's a lot of pancakes, and then we've got our center driving people 20 yards down the field. It's just awesome.”
Miller-Gray's strengths are his uncanny ability to stay on his feet, and his game-breaking skill.
“I cannot think of a time this year where someone has got a highlight-type hit on him,” Shaner said. “You're always getting part of him. You're always getting a hip or a shoulder.
“His balance is unbelievable. He does not go down a lot, which can be troublesome at times too because then they're getting three or four or five guys to the ball.”
His biggest game came in a road test against South Seven foe Althoff. He ripped off 195 yards and three scores. All three came in the final quarter, and twice he broke scores of 30 yards or more.
Shaner added that he expects Miller-Gray to continue to develop.
“He's a hard-working kid,” Shaner said. “He's a track kid. I think he's going to get even faster than he is. He'll spend some time in the weight room. I think he'll get bigger and stronger too.”