Odiah rushes into record book at Burlington High

Running back and kick returner Marcus Odiah has shattered the rushing record at Burlington High. Now a senior, this is his first season as a team captain.
Running back and kick returner Marcus Odiah has shattered the rushing record at Burlington High. Now a senior, this is his first season as a team captain. –Photos by Jim Davis/Globe Staff

BURLINGTON — For an instant, Marcus Odiah
 views the field as if everyone around him is in slow motion.

A sliver of daylight opens up in the offensive line, and the 6-foot, 180-pound Burlington High senior makes a swift cut upfield, feeling much like Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson — his favorite back in the NFL.

“I love looking around,’’ Odiah said. “My eyes are always on a swivel, and once I see that hole, I’m out.’’

“Out’’ translated is a 75-yard scamper, like the one Odiah ripped off against Billerica Sept. 7 for the first of what will probably be a number of touchdowns this season.


“He has that ability to make people miss without slowing down,’’ said coach Shawn Maguire
, who has guided Burlington to a 2-0 start with wins over Billerica (49-28) and Arlington (26-14). “He has great vision, and he understands the field and knows where people are coming from.

“When he knows he has to go forward, he takes off.’’

He is following in the footsteps of his father, Excell Walker
, a standout running back at Reading High in the 1990s who later played cornerback at Northeastern.

Odiah is often reminded of his father’s talent. But he is focused on establishing his own legacy.

“I want to get better and better every year, because I feel like I have big expectations and I have to hold true to it and work harder,’’ Odiah said.

He has blazed through the record books at Burlington High, shattering the career rushing mark (3,187 yards) set by Jake Daigle (class of 2005). He buried Billerica with 302 yards in the opener and then ran past Daigle with a 160-yard, three-touchdown effort last week at Arlington.

He enters Friday’s matchup against Belmont with 3,287 yards.

“He’s had a great career,’’ Maguire said. “And if he makes it through the year healthy, he’ll have started a total of 44 games. He progresses the way he should each year, he’s gotten faster, and I think the toughness part really came into play last year and this year.’’


While Odiah has always been a key cog in the attack, this is his first season as a team captain, a title that he has earned, according to running back Anthony Cruz. 

“His leadership has increased immensely from last year,’’ Cruz said. “You look for seniors to take charge of the team, and [Odiah’s] really skyrocketed with it. He’s become more vocal, he was really quiet last year, and it’s awesome to have an all-star player leading like that.’’

Cruz has also stepped up on his own, tasked with replacing fullback Kyle Shields
, Odiah’s lead blocker, who scored 15 times last season.

While Cruz admits feeling a bit of pressure clearing a path for Odiah, he said the two work off each other.

“He just gives you so much emotion and energy,’’ Cruz said. “It’s just so easy for you to feed off him and want to play that extra yard.’’

For Odiah, who’s drawn some interest from Boston College, there’s one stat that’s eluded his resume – a playoff victory.

“We’re working hard in practice every day,’’ Odiah said. “We have a lot of seniors this year, and we’re pumped up for every game. We know it’s our last chance, and we definitely want to try to make an impact on the [Middlesex Small] league this year.’’

Prep starts fast

St. John’s Prep running back Johnathan Thomas
 (13 touchdowns last season) is poised for a breakout season. He delivered 160 yards and a touchdown in a 31-7 win over Central Catholic Saturday.


But while Thomas broke off huge gains, senior quarterback Jack Shario quietly dissected Central’s secondary and threw for two touchdowns in the first half.

“We’re doing things that [Shario] can be successful at, and we have to make people defend the field and we made that a priority,’’ St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary
 said. “He’s making good decisions, and he worked hard in the offseason to [improve] his throwing.’’

Last season, when Shario stepped in for Tommy Gaudet
 (injury), he ran more plays of the option scheme, finishing with three TD passes. This year, the Eagles (2-0) have displayed a more balanced attack, utilizing big targets like 6-foot-4 tight end Anthony Bongiorno

“The new offense we put in is kind of a hybrid from last year with some new stuff,’’ said Shario, who has four TD passes in the first two games. “I love throwing the ball, and with the athletes we have it makes it a lot easier.’’

When the Eagles take on the state’s powerhouse Everett, on Saturday, Shario is confident the new offense can be effective. “I just want to go in and play as hard as we can and beat them as best as we can,’’ he said.

Offense in gear

Danvers registered its most prolific performance in 106 years of varsity football Saturday, pounding on Peabody 61-12. The Falcons scored on all eight possessions.

“I’m very happy for the kids,’’ coach Sean Rogers said. “They worked tremendously hard, especially the senior group. A lot of the kids started with me and took a lot of lumps their sophomore and junior years.

“We made a lot of mistakes still, but their aggressiveness and physical play covered up the holes we had.’’

Seniors Anthony Garron
 and Jake Cawlina
, and sophomore Richie Martino
 all scored twice for the Falcons, while senior Alex Grant
 and sophomore Chris Behen
 added the other two scores.

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