MAYNARD — West Central’s Brandon Cushion is peeking out from a mass of bodies.
An opponent is trying to undercut him, while
several others — teammates and opposition alike — are hanging on from the side and back. Opponents attempt to bring him down. Teammates attempt to help move him forward.
All while Cushion keeps his legs moving.
In another instance, a teammate is trying to take down an opponent. So Cushion just wraps them both up and drags them all down.
Just trying to help the team.
The enduring image Cushion wants you to have has unfolded a few times this season.
It has personified the junior as he became the program’s lead back. It has led to him accounting for 14 of the Blue Devils’ 25 offensive touchdowns. It is a large part of the narrative as West Central has three shots at its first three-win season since 2015.
“Couldn’t do it without the linemen,” Cushion said. “You go there, play with everything you’ve got and do the best you can do. If you do the best you can do and everyone sees that and they do the best they can do, the team will be successful.”
Cushion defers to his teammates a lot. He has 737 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns on 102 carries, and seven 2-point conversions.
That is 71 percent of West Central’s rush yardage, 72 percent of the rush scores and 59 percent of the carries. And 39 percent of the 2-point conversions.
Defensively, he leads the team with 39.5 tackles, 27 solo, 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
When asked if he looked at the production as a ‘my-time-to-shine’ thing, he replied, “Not really.”
“We lost, what was it, nine seniors?” Cushion said. “We lost our leading tackler, so I knew that was going to be everyone as a team needed to step up on defense. Same thing with offense — we lost a really good receiver and a decent running back, too.
“So we had a lot of kids who had to step up and fill positions. With them
stepping up and other competition, it’s how we’ve been able to get these couple wins this year.”
Longtime head coach Steve Midler noted Cushion has played since his freshman year and is well-versed in everything necessary to help the Blue Devils be successful.
The coaching staff tweaked the offensive scheme — Cushion was an I-set blocking back in 2020 — which made him tweak his own approach.
“I’ve tried to get better at cutting and trying to move (fluidly),” he said. “The past couple of years has been head down, run forward, you only get a couple yards.
“But if you make a couple moves, you can get a 10-, 20-yard run instead of four.”
Cushion’s production has meant opponents key on him on both sides of the ball. Fine by him.
“When they start focusing on me, that leaves a lot more opportunities for my teammates to step up and make bigger plays,” he said.