Kentwood running back on the loose

Apparently no one told Noel Aleman that there was an eight-month gap between the end of the 2002 high school football season and the start of the 2003 campaign

The senior East Kentwood running back is simply picking up where he left off.

When the 2002 season ended for the Division I runners-up, Aleman had led a stunning full-house wing T backfield with 2,835 yards and 38 touchdowns, almost beating the state's all-time single season rushing record.

In two games this year, Aleman hasn't missed a beat. In East Kentwood's first game this season, a 44-7 whipping of Birmingham Brother Rice, he had 132 yards on just nine carries. Last weekend, in a 69-26 whipping over Jenison, Aleman picked up 158 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns in just a half of play. That's 14.5 yards per carry.

The 5-foot-10, 205 pound senior running back, being recruited by a number of Mid-American Conference schools, put in a ton of work during the summer, and seemed to be in all-state championship form when he ran over the Brother Rice defense during the Prep Kickoff Classic at the Pontiac Silverdome Aug. 30.

"I've approved a lot from last year," Aleman said after the impressive rout against Brother Rice. "We figured we would do well in that game, but didn't exactly know what would happen."

Aleman said it's not important how many yards he gains this year, as long as the East Kentwood running attack can combine to take the team to a successful ending.

"We need to improve more even though I ran for that many yards last year," Aleman said. "We can improve. Our backfield is faster, quicker and stronger than it was last year."

Coach John Shillito's full-house offense for the Falcons is based on hiding the ball on the handoff and driving the defense crazy in trying to find the ball carrier. But Aleman provides his own talents on the field.

"I have some good moves when I break through the line," he said.

The Falcons lost to Detroit Catholic Central in the Division I finals last year and Aleman readily admits this team badly wants to return to the Silverdome in November for another shot at the state title. But hold on just a second.

"Right now, we're trying to improve," Aleman said. "They say the most improvement goes from your first to your second game."

East Kentwood hopes to win another O-K Red Conference title, but Aleman said it won't be easy.

"We have a tough conference, but that helps us in getting us ready for the playoffs," the Falcon running back said.

"We have a tough conference which helps us when we go to the playoffs," Aleman said.

Aleman is expected to draw looks from various Mid-American Conference schools when the season ends. He's also considering St. Joseph, Ind. in NCAA Division II and Olivet in NCAA Division III.

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