Oct. 24, 2009
LaRon Council Waited His Turn, Now He's Making His Mark
By Bryan Boettcher, Northwest Director of Media Relations and Sports Information
It's another season of college football and once again a Northwest Missouri State running back stands alone atop the MIAA. LaRon Council is heading the conference races for the second year in a row. His 783 yards rushing rank 13th nationally and are nearly 100 more than anyone else in the conference race. His 11 rushing touchdowns rank 12th nationally and are two better than any other back in the league.
Does that come as a surprise?
Consider what Northwest fans have grown accustomed to the past few seasons. Xavier Omon ran for 1,500 yards in each of his four seasons and totaled an NCAA-best 38 touchdowns during his senior year in 2007. Not many could foresee a similar performance from any predecessor for some time, yet Council rushed for 1,739 yards and had 36 touchdowns in 2008, totals that ranked third and second in the nation, respectively.
With numbers like those, it's hard to keep recent accomplishments in perspective. Only 13 times in the last 44 seasons has a Bearcat run for 1,000 yards in a season. Only 10 times in that span has a back surpassed 11 scores. With Council mining the run game, fans will see those milestones reached for the sixth consecutive season.
Despite the numbers, the Bearcat offense has a different look and feel this season. Quarterback Blake Bolles and his assortment of receivers have spread the field to the tune of nearly 300 yards per game. He's also thrown for the second-most scores in the nation. Those are all good things, but it's led to a soft spot for Council inside head coach Mel Tjeerdsma.
"I've felt bad for LaRon at times this season because we're throwing the ball a lot more," said Tjeerdsma. "Teams are focusing a little more on him and many are putting eight guys in the box in a commitment to stopping the run.
"I told him I was sorry he didn't get more carries today towards the end of the Southern game. He just smiled and said coach, if we're winning like that it doesn't make any difference."
Council's smile is as big and as bright as any you'll see and it's that unselfishness which helped him arrive at Northwest in the first place.
"Seeing the success that Xavier had early in his career inspired me and made me want to come here all the more," said Council. "He was my host when I visited in high school and showed me around. We're real good friends and we still talk often."
Waiting for your turn is second nature when you grow up the youngest of four kids. LaRon's brothers, Levell, 24, and Lendery, 25, were also running backs in high school. The three even got to spend a year playing together on the varsity team.
"It was fun to get one year to play with those guys," said Council. "You don't get picked on as much as a freshman when you have two older brothers on the team."
Council wrestled in high school and competed at 189 pounds as a senior. He also developed a love for math and at one point gave serious consideration to joining the Air Force Academy in Colorado in an effort to become an engineer. The thought faded when he learned that route would lead to early morning wake-up calls.
Council saw his high school football career end in the same place his college career began - Maryville. His team lost to the Spoofhounds and one of their stars, Myles Burnsides, in the playoffs his senior year.
About a week following the game, Council spoke with former Northwest assistant coach Bart Tatum. The rest, as they say, is history.
Council redshirted during his first year at Northwest and got his first opportunity when Omon fractured a rib against Central Missouri.
"I came in, was doing well and four plays later I got into a pile, rolled the wrong way and my leg just snapped," said Council. "It got stuck in the turf and one guy pulled me at the same time."
Council returned to the field and was the starting fullback as a sophomore in 2007, but reinjured the leg after being hit against Southwest Baptist in the fourth game of the season. He returned seven games later and carried six times in the Bearcats' final three postseason contests.
"I think he had some doubt in his mind going into last year just how good he could be and whether he could survive without an injury," said Tjeerdsma. "The broken leg he suffered from as a freshman could have been career ending. For some people it is."
Despite the injury, Council had little fear heading into last season. He was confident and coming off the first summer in which he could run and work out fully.
Every Northwest player fills out a goals sheet at the beginning of each season. Hanging on his bedroom wall, last year's sheet still remains. On it, a 1,500-yard season, a five-yard average per carry and all-conference and all-region honors. There must not have been space to list the four All-America teams he appeared on.
Council remains intrigued with math and statistics and has plans to become an actuary following football. He's been asked many times what his team's chances are getting back to the championship game. His math instincts kick in and he'll reply that your odds of getting there are the same every year.
"He's got everything planned out," said Tjeerdsma. "He's a very intelligent young man, a hard worker and a diligent student. Whatever he chooses to do, he'll be successful at it."
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468