By John Philip Wyllie
At just 5’4” and 160 pounds Bonita Vista running back Wesley Roche looks more like somebody’s kid brother than the tough, durable and elusive ball carrier that he has become. In five games Roche has accounted for most of the Barons offense carrying the ball 105 times for 572 yards and five touchdowns.
The son of a 5’8” Anglo father and a 5’1” Mexican-American mother, Roche was destined to be vertically challenged, but he hasn’t let that stop him one bit.
“My dad always got me into sports when I was younger. He was always into them when he was young and he wanted me to give me the same opportunity. I played Pop Warner for about four or five years before coming up here. My mom used to worry about me getting hurt back when I was playing mighty mites, but she doesn’t anymore. They both know that I know how to play and how to take a hit. I have never been seriously injured.”
Roche almost single-handedly upset the then sixth-ranked Mission Bay Buccaneers when he torched their defense a few weeks ago for 191 yards and a shocking 30-14 upset. He’s obviously not very big and also not particularly fast, but he is quick, shifty, and utterly fearless.
“Wesley is a little guy with a big heart. He never stops trying,” said Baron head coach, Carl Parrick. “He just keeps going and going and going and he has a good attitude about everything. He knows he is small and not very fast, but he makes up for it by the way he cuts through the line and follows his guys.” Blessed with a solid offensive line led by Mark Bureaud, Colin Cummins and Kyle Kmet, Roche is adept at reading his blocks seeing the field and squirting through the holes that these wide bodies open up for him.
“It is really helpful with my linemen doing what they know how to do,” said Roche deflecting the credit. “They are big boys and they push (the opposing defensive linemen) around. I would say that they are probably the best in the league right now.”
“Wesley has a lot of heart and he uses his line well,” according to running backs coach, Jay Matlock. “They rally around him and he gets the job done.”
The job now is to rebound off of rare a sub par year and lay claim to another Mesa League title. With strength on both their offensive and defensive lines and a consistent ground attack led by Roche, the Barons (3-2) have a shot at it.
“People look at my size on the roster chart and think that I couldn’t be very effective, but I do what I can and it often pays off. I guess I just use the fundamentals of being a running back. There is not too much to say. If I see a hole, I hit it and if I don’t, I cut back. I just use my vision and everything else that I’ve got.”
Roche faces an uncertain football future once he graduates mainly due to his size. “I would play in college especially if I got a scholarship somewhere, but that would be a lot of abuse on my body. Right now, I am just enjoying this year as much as I can.”