MERIDEN — Tyzhan Leatherwood bided his time in the 2012 season as All-State running back Justin Potts accumulated yard after yard for the Platt football team.
With Potts graduating after the most prolific scoring season in Meriden history, Leatherwood is picking up where his predecessor left off.
Leatherwood has rushed for 444 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two career starts as the Panther tailback. Leatherwood, only a junior, has powered Platt to a 2-0 start with wins over Waterford (41-13) and East Catholic (40-26).
“He was second unit for us last year,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “He came to us as a sophomore. He played his freshman year at Maloney and moved to this side of town.
“He paid his dues last year and did a lot of the little things for us last year,” the coach added. “He’s just a hard worker. He put himself in a great position to be the starter.”
Leatherwood is 5-6 and 165 pounds of all muscle.
“I like the power run,” Leatherwood said. “I like to hit and run people over. People can’t see me when I break through the holes and you have to get low to hit me.”
Bruenn said Leatherwood will be fine carrying the load for the Panthers ground game all season.
“Physically, he is very tough,” Bruenn said. “He lifts a lot of weight and that’s why he can bang inside. Obviously, he has the speed to break outside.”
Leatherwood also benefits from running behind a talented offensive line and he has earned the respect of his linemen.
“I’m happy for him. He works very hard,” Platt’s 6-foot-4, 305-pound All-State left tackle Erlin Colon said. “He put in the time and wants to be a better player.”
Leatherwood added that when he does make a mistake, the big men up front are not afraid to tell him.
“It’s a blessing and a curse sometimes because they all get on me when I mess up,” Leatherwood said. “I have to make sure I am always on my P’s and Q’s running behind them. They are on me all of the time, but I like it because it keeps me going for the next challenge.”
Toledo Sharp will be making his season debut at right guard this evening when the Panthers travel to Plainville at 7 p.m. The senior said Leatherwood is getting better every week.
“We want to keep him up,” Sharp said. “If he keeps messing up, then you have to get in his face to hold onto the ball and to keep running hard and pay attention to the blocks. Practice makes perfect. He is looking at the blocking scheme and is getting smarter and seeing what defenses are doing against him.”
Bruenn said Platt’s entire offense is the strength of the team, in particular the linemen.
“The offensive line is just incredible right now,” Bruenn said. “They have experience and size; they know where they are supposed to go. People like to watch the ball, but I like to watch the line. They are just work-pail guys that like to get the job done. They love blocking. That’s their enjoyment. They love crushing people and they do a great job doing it.”
With the combination of a talented line and Leatherwood bursting through the holes and piling up the yards and TDs, it could add up to another big season for Platt football.
“We love mashing people and pushing people back on the ground and we love to see Ty score,” Barnett said.