The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 17, 2014

Boddy poised to make leap to feature back

FAIRMONT — It takes a unique skillset to do what Malik Boddy does for the Fairmont Senior football team.

The running back/defensive back/return specialist steps into a more called-upon roll this season for the Polar Bears.

But before you look at this season’s workload, you must look back on his past roles.

During the 2012 season, Boddy was mainly used as a return specialist, igniting the crowd with his lightning-quick moves, sort of resembling a young Tavon Austin on the turf of East-West Stadium.

In 2013, he was moved into the role of defensive back. After admittedly not wanting to play defense, Boddy thrived, garnering second-team All Big 10 honors as a corner back.

But it’s what he did toward the end of the season that has most prepared him for the 2014 season.

When feature back Noah Harmon went down for the Polar Bears, Boddy was called upon to shoulder some of the load for the Polar Bears. By season’s end, Boddy had rushed for 384 yards.

Now, heading into the 2014 season, Boddy will likely be called upon to be the No. 1 back for coach J.L. Abbott and company. And that’s something the coach is comfortable with.

“Malik did a nice job last year and he’s worked his tail off this offseason. He did some work down at Guerrilla Strength over Christmas,” Abbott noted. “He ran track in the spring. I told him running track would be good for him.”

Through all his offseason workouts, Boddy has gained 10 pounds, putting him up to around 170 pounds, the running back said.

After playing with guys like Harmon, Luke Hrapchak, Neil Scherich and Ryder Skarzinski, who ran for a combined 1,867 yards last season as seniors, Boddy feels like he is ready to step up.

“I feel good,” he said. “I feel like the guys before me prepared me very well.”

Being a vital part of the team the past two seasons has also helped Boddy adapt and feel up to the task, citing his relationship with this year’s crop of offensive linemen as a key reason for his high comfort level.

“I’ve gotten to get a little bit of work with them as a freshman when I was on JV,” Boddy said. “But now we’re on a bigger stage.”

Indeed they are all on a bigger stage, from Boddy to the offensive line, to the young receiving corps to junior quarterback Dom Smith. But Abbott has stressed to his players all summer that being young is no excuse, telling them that new leaders must emerge for success.

“He’s been really on us because we only have four seniors,” Boddy said. “The juniors really have to take over the team and be the leaders. We lost 16 or 17 seniors last season.”

With all that, Boddy, along with running backs like Michael Toothman, hope to be able to shoulder the bulk of the load this year, making Smith’s job a little easier at the helm.

But when Smith looks around him in the backfield and sees the speed and quickness that Boddy has coupled with the strength Toothman has, he isn’t worried.

“They’ve been working really hard,” Smith said. “And Malik, he’s been in the weight room. He’s been doing everything he can to get better and faster.”

When it comes time for the Friday night lights of August to shine upon East-West Stadium, Boddy says he’ll be ready.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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