Good Enough Player Finally Old Enough

Rick Woods, the La Jolla Country Day football coach, was in a quandary last season.

Rashaan Salaam was too good for the junior varsity but too young for the varsity.

Salaam was a month short of the varsity's 15-year-old age requirement. Woods tried to get a waiver to allow Salaam to play, but San Diego Section Commissioner Kendall Webb said no.

So Salaam played the first two junior varsity games, then sat out the next two until he met the age requirement.

"We didn't want him to play JV games because he was so much bigger than the other kids (that) we thought he'd hurt them," Woods said.

Salaam (6-1, 185) has since proved be one of the better backs in the county.

In his first varsity game last year, Salaam rushed for 216 yards and scored five touchdowns against Francis Parker. In six games, he ran for 1,200 yards and scored 21 touchdowns.

"He's gifted," Woods said. "He's so talented and above everybody else that sometimes he doesn't think he has to work. I get on him because of that, and he wonders why we push him. He has a lot of room to get better."

Section records began to fall, but many have been overlooked because Salaam played eight-man football. Salaam scored six touchdowns against Midway Baptist and rushed for 371 yards, second in the record book to Julian's Erich Fredburg (455, also in an eight-man game against Midway Baptist last year).

This season, Salaam leads the county with 17 touchdowns, all in 11-man games. Against Marian, he scored seven to break the record of six, which was shared by four players.

In three games, Salaam has rushed for 518 yards on 43 carries, averaging about 12 yards a carry and 172.6 yards a game.

"Rashaan has been fantastic," Woods said. "He can play at any level."

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