They call John DeBique “The Beast” out in Baldwin, and for good reason. When he gets moving, there isn’t a player on the field who can stop him.
He’s the perfect blend of sheer strength and breakaway speed. And when he’s running like he did in Saturday’s 35-8 win over No. 6 East Meadow in the Nassau I football quarterfinals, No. 3 Baldwin is dangerous.
His unique talents resulted in a school-record 348 yards, according to coach Steve Carroll. The senior carried the ball 20 times, scored four touchdowns and even ran for a two-point conversion. His rushing total is the 16th highest ever for a Nassau player in a single game.
The host crowd donned “Feed the Beast” shirts made by DeBique’s mother, and a sea of navy blue and gold flashed whenever the 6-1, 232-pound bruiser found room. “After the first carry I realized they didn’t want to tackle me and I could just take over this game,” said DeBique, who earned his nickname in middle school.
His first carry went for 15 yards on the opening play from scrimmage. After runs of 4 and 5 yards, DeBique broke through the trenches, cut through the secondary and sprinted 55 yards for a touchdown.
He added scoring runs of 66, 1 and 57, with the latter pushing him past 300 and the former record of 316 set by Ricky Manigat in 2005. “He’s a monster,” said T’khi Wood-Smith, who caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Norman Wilson in the second and intercepted a pass in the fourth. “He’s a major component of this team.”
Baldwin (6-3) led 35-0 before Justin Reyes returned a kickoff 75 yards in the fourth quarter for East Meadow’s lone score.
DeBique will lead the Bruins into the Nassau I semifinal on Thursday against Freeport at Hofstra.
A unique combination of vision, elusiveness and power make DeBique difficult to tackle. He fought through swarms of defenders to gain tough yardage after first contact. Several times he appeared to be stopped in his tracks before he bounced outside for more yards.
“He did it in brutal fashion,” Carroll said of his performance. “He just dumped these people. And they’re a good physical team.”
East Meadow (4-5) had a bit of a size advantage in the trenches, but the combined play of Jared Smith, Armando Roman, Joe Gallagher, Anderson Sylvain, and Jimmy Velazquez for Baldwin (6-3) created gaping holes for DeBique.
“They blocked out of their minds today,” DeBique said. “I’ve had some good running games, but not like this. This was crazy.”
Some would say it was Beast Mode.