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Balanced attack

Freeman Scotties running backs Max Leib, left, and Markus Goldbach have combined for 2,528 yards on the ground this season. (Jesse Tinsley)
Freeman Scotties running backs Max Leib, left, and Markus Goldbach have combined for 2,528 yards on the ground this season. (Jesse Tinsley)

RBs Laib, Goldbach will carry the load for Freeman against Cashmere

For the Freeman football team, the M&M running back tandem has been a delicious treat this season.

Senior Max Laib and junior Markus Goldbach have not only each rushed for more than 1,000 yards, they’re a reflection of how balanced the Scotties’ offense has been. Laib has a 54-yard lead with a team-best 1,291 yards. Goldbach has 1,237.

And to keep this balance theme going, they each have scored 21 rushing touchdowns.

Tasty statistics to say the least.

“I don’t ever remember any team I’ve been around having two 1,300-yard rushers,” Freeman coach Jim Wood said. “The nice part is you can totally change up the pace of the game.”

Most of the time, Freeman executes out of a two-back set with Laib at the tailback and Goldbach at the fullback. Next year Goldbach is likely to man the tail.

“If I don’t have the ball Markus is going to have the ball,” Laib said. “And we’re both going to punish you.”

They’re equally confident in their abilities, but they each acknowledge it goes beyond what they do.

“The productivity of our offense is due to our offensive line,” Goldbach said. “They’re big and talented.”

Jordan Rose is at left tackle, Dasheill Wyatt at left guard, Peyton Smetana at center and Connor McVay and Ian Johnston share right tackle.

“We wouldn’t have the yards without them,” Goldbach said.

Laib detailed how it works from the snap.

“The line opens up the first level and Markus takes care of the blockers at the second level,” Laib said. “Then I get to dance my way around the safeties.”

Laib is 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds. He’s the shifty runner. Goldbach is 6-0 and 190. He’s the power runner.

“Max sets up his blocks real well,” Wood said. “He waits for things to happen and can make people miss. He’s just a touch faster than Marcus but they’re pretty close in speed.

“Markus is the power. He’s a downhill runner. He breaks tackles and runs through people.”

They’re also two-way starters. They both man safety positions on defense.

Wood thought the tandem could be productive. But he’s been pleasantly surprised by what has played out.

“I knew that we could do some things with both of them,” Wood said. “But I didn’t dream that would be where they’re at. Holy cow.”

The running backs expected not only to be among the team’s offensive leaders but to be playing this late in the season, too.

They credit their team being 12-0 and a win from going to the Tacoma Dome to off season conditioning with area trainer Drew Buchkowski and in-school strength teacher Chad Ripke.

“We’ve really had more of a commitment to the weight room this year,” Laib said of the team. “(Buchkowski) doesn’t believe in developing body builders, he builds athletes.”

The Scotties emphasize multiple reps at light weights to build speed and conditioning.

The duo said they’ve seen this year’s success coming. Last year, the junior varsity and C teams were undefeated. This year all three Freeman teams are undefeated.

Laib enjoys watching Goldbach run.

“He’s not the best juker but he’ll go through you,” Laib said. “He does a good job of keeping his speed.”

The respect goes both ways.

“He has very good lateral movement all around,” Goldbach said of Laib. “He’s very athletic, quick and elusive.”

They’ve been tagged with familiar nicknames from teammates. Lightning (Laib) and Thunder (Goldbach) and Shake (Laib) and Bake (Goldbach).

While Tacoma is the ultimate destination, they’re not looking past Cashmere and their semifinal matchup Saturday at Joe Albi Stadium. Kickoff is at 4.

“We know we’re close but like Coach Wood says it’s a one-game season,” Goldbach said. “He’s been saying that since our crossover game. That week No. 1-ranked Zillah was upset by Royal.”

Freeman sent Royal home last week.

“So you have to stay humble,” Goldbach said.

And stay hungry – just like the M&M duo.

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