SPRINGFIELD – Koby Linares hasn’t lived in Louisiana very long, but he’s already made quite an impression with the Springfield football program.
Linares heads into the Bulldogs’ home opener with Cohen at 7 p.m. Friday as the parish’s third-leading rusher, picking up 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Springfield’s 23-20 loss to Bogue, Chitto, Miss.
Not too shabby for a converted center.
“He’s done a great job of being able to pick up on the system that we’re running and doing a good job of getting yards with what we’re asking him to do, especially for a kid who really hasn’t had much experience there at all,” Bulldogs coach Ryan Serpas said of Linares, who transferred to Springfield from New Caney High School in Texas. “He played center and middle linebacker at his other school, and he comes over here and gets an opportunity to run the ball, so it’s every lineman’s dream that he’s being able to live right now.”
In moving to Springfield, Linares said playing football wasn’t originally on his radar, as he was more focused on living around water and getting some fishing in.
Serpas said he met Linares and his stepbrother Josh Coleman in late July, and Linares said he was originally slated to play on defense at linebacker.
“Being at a smaller school, we kind of have to look at the skill sets that these kids have and give them the opportunities to maximize them,” Serpas said. “He’s a kid who came in and looked fairly athletic and moved well. You really don’t know until you get them out here on the field and start evaluating them against what you’ve got. We could kind of tell early on that he was going to be able to help contribute right away with us.”
Linares, however, moved to running back when Arshun Andrews, who filled in admirably as a freshman after John’L Fryson broke his leg last season, got banged up in Springfield’s scrimmage with Central Private. Linares had a 5-yard touchdown run in that contest.
“At first, it hurt my knees really bad because I wasn’t used to all the cutting and stuff because I haven’t done it in about a year or so,” Linares said. “After about the first week, everything started to get better and then everything stopped hurting. I missed hitting all the people, but I was able to hit them when I was running the ball.”
With Andrews still a bit banged up, Serpas opted to rest him in the Bulldogs’ 8-0 jamboree loss to Independence, and Linares led Springfield with 38 yards on six carries.
Linares carried that momentum into the game with Bogue Chitto, breaking off touchdown runs of 43 and 16 yards. He said being a former offensive lineman has helped in his transition to running back.
“As a lineman, when you’re pulling the first thing you’re looking for is the linebacker, and we’ve all watched film and we know the linebacker’s going to come inside, so he’s going to kick himself out the play,” Linares said. “The lineman just goes straight up for the safety or the corner that’s coming across.
“When you’re watching as a running back, you’re watching everything happen in front of your eyes, and everything happens so quick. It’s a quick thing to move out the way whenever the lineman comes up and lays the dude out in front of me. It’s just a weird transaction going straight from lineman to running back.”
Serpas said Linares’ thought process is still like a lineman, even as a running back.
“Whenever we put in a play, he’s asking, ‘Hey coach, where am I trying to hit this hole at? Where is the hole going to be created at?’ We’re talking about it, and he understands those concepts and whether to try to hit it wide or hit it tight,” Serpas said. “He’s doing a good job of seeing what the play is asking of him to do and how to set his blocks up.”
Linares credited the Bulldogs’ offensive line for his big night in the opener.
“The guy that got me the most yards when I ran to the right side was Hunter Hue when he pulled around and just cleared the hole out,” Linares said. “There was no hole there. Dude came around and just blew everything up and came right through the middle, and then I scored. Having a physical line like we have and them just getting everybody out the way. It just makes everything a lot easier for me.”
If Linares’ quick start with the Bulldogs’ weren’t enough, Serpas is hoping to get Andrews involved against Cohen, giving Springfield a pair of running backs with distinctly different styles.
“Moving into Week 2, I really expect Arshun and Koby to kind of start balancing out each out a little bit more,” Serpas said. “Arshun is more of a bowling ball-type kid. He’s going to get those physical, tough yards, going to fall forward. Koby is finding those little creases in the seams and has shown the ability to break some long runs as well.”
Linares said he’s thankful the way things have worked out.
“I kind of merged in pretty good,” Linares said. “Just get the job done, and that’s how it is.”