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TD machine: Perham QB Anderson frequents the end zone

PERHAM, Minn.

PERHAM, Minn. - To say that Caleb Anderson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball is hyperbole.

Since returning a kickoff 81 yards on his first varsity play, the Perham senior quarterback's actual carry-to-touchdown ratio is closer to 5-to-1: 18 scores on 95 carries in 13 games.

"If he can get second level, he has a chance to get it to the house," Yellowjackets coach Howie Kangas said.

Anderson has practically taken up residency there - which is kind of the object of the game, he pointed out.

"Every time we have the ball, obviously, we're all looking to score, pretty much any way we can find a way to get in there," Anderson said. "If I have the ball I'm going to look at how I can get in the end zone. Everybody is looking to get to the end zone."

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But few have the physical ability, the smarts, the support to pull it off as frequently as Anderson.

Cris Carter, of all-he-does-is-catch-touchdowns fame, averaged one score per 8.5 catches. Randy Moss is at 6.3 catches over an eight-year NFL career, and he rarely gets the ball with more than two defenders to beat.

Anderson starts under center for an option-oriented high school team, albeit one that's 3-0 and ranked ninth in Minnesota Class 3A. He has the freedom to call his own number, something he said he doesn't do unless its best for the team, which fits with his reputation as being a "giver," Perham assistant Jeremy Kovash said.

On cue, Anderson attributed his success to the coaches and the game plan, the blockers for their direction, the defense for field position.

Although true, that's selling the6-foot Anderson short.

"It's about players, it's not about plays," Kangas said, "and he's a player."

That is, he's a first-team all-conference basketball player and a state-qualifying 400-meter runner in addition to being a touchdown machine.

Few of these scores are of the 1-yard, QB-sneak variety, as Anderson has a penchant for striking from long range, not to mention his profile in the Heart O' Lakes Conference doesn't allow for stealth movements.

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In little more than one full varsity season, he's rushed for 1,010 yards, an average of 10.4 per carry. Four of his seven touchdowns this fall have covered at least 10 yards. In a 2004 game against Frazee, he ran for a school-record 280 yards and three scores on six carries.

"We schooled our ends and schooled our ends, and he pulls it out and poof he's gone," Frazee coach Steve Carlson. "I think last year he had three 80-plus yard runs from scrimmage. This year we kept it to one 50-yard run."

How is Anderson able to maintain the unprecedented pace playing against the defense-oriented teamsof the HOL and Section 8?

Kovash chalked it up to having a nose for the end zone. Carlson singled out speed, Kangas cutting ability. And when stuffed into a track tank top, it's apparent the 170-pound Anderson carries enough muscle to run through defenders.

The goal, Kangas said, is to get "more grass between him and the defense."

"If I can get one guy to try to beat, we like our chances," Anderson said. "Just get me out in open space and see if I can make a move."

Odds are one out of every five times he can.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548

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