PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — Wayzata came back to defend its state football title, and the Trojans star running back Mitch Underhill was lost for the season in the first game after tearing an ACL.
But another star had moved into the school district, and he’s helped carry the team to another unbeaten season. Antonio Ford burst onto the football scene at Coon Rapids High School. He’s a work horse with breakaway speed and he’s now Wayzata’s top running back.
We ran into him last spring in Florida as he was working with Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke at a football camp. Ford was named the camp’s MVP.
“I just got in front of the line every time we had drills and kept the intensity up. I try to lead people and just always try to go 100 percent in everything I did all year,” Ford said.
Wayzata had a great football team last year. They won the 5A state championship with Underhill, who lit up Rosemount for four touchdowns in the game. He’s been out since tearing a knee ligament in the first game of the season.
Fortunately for Wayzata, Ford had transferred over from Coon Rapids.
“We were fortunate enough that we’re able to split some carries with him and Erik Roti. I think they both excel in that type of system, but the big thing that Antonio gives us is just that physical presence of an inside runner,” said Wayzata coach Brad Anderson.
“It was a big loss for us because we had a three-headed monster coming in with me, Mitch and Erik,” Ford said. “But me and Roti picked up where we left off and carried the load as far as running the ball.”
Ford has done his best to provide another piece to an already talented team, making sure that priority No. 1 was fitting in as a teammate.
“When I first came in here I didn’t really know anybody, but when it came to the running backs everyone really welcomed me. I really felt like a part of the family so I’m glad to be here,” Ford said.
“When you come in and you are part of an activity you get to know kids in a different way. He was really well accepted right from the beginning. The players saw him as a guy who is interested in what our team does and not just his personal stats. That’s important,” Anderson said.
He’s important to his team, and now important to his team’s chances in the postseason.
“It feels great. You can’t really just get caught up in the hype and stuff, but you really have to maintain focus. I’m just glad to be here.”