BY Craig Larson
Eddie Vachon has already piled up more all-purpose yards than any player to don a purple and white uniform at Stonehill College. And he's only two games into his senior season.
He is 456 yards shy of passing Tyrone Jefferson (2,701) as the program's career rushing leader. And given his scintillating start: a 23-carry, 153-yard, one-touchdown effort at Curry, and 191 yards and three touchdowns on 19 touches last Friday night against Pace, Vachon is destined to cradle another game ball soon.
Yet the 5-foot-8-inch, 190-pound tailback from Newton is almost dismissive of the notoriety.
"The individual stuff, it's nice, but I just want to win, and have a successful season,'' said Vachon this week as the 2-0 Skyhawks prepped for today's Northeast-10 opener at American International.
Stonehill has not put together a winning campaign since the Connie Driscoll-led Chieftains went 8-2 in 1996. Vachon, after a pair of 5-5 seasons sandwiched around a 4-6 finish his sophomore year, is determined to go out with a flourish.
"We expect to win this year, we're expecting to do well [in the conference], and I don't want to see the team fail. I'm looked at as the supposed leader,'' he said.
No, an undisputed leader.
"I'm still learning from him,'' said sophomore Jermetrius Troy, a reserve back from Brockton. "When I first came in, I was 'go-go-go', utilizing my speed. Eddie said 'be patient, set up your blocks.' ''
Troy ripped off a 61-yard scoring run against Pace last week. "I was patient, and I used my speed,'' said Troy.
Vachon, a captain who played at Newton North and Blair Academy in New Jersey, downplays his role. "Everybody is ready to play here, I don't have to lead too much,'' he said.
Stonehill coach Robert Talley knows otherwise.
"Being voted a captain not necessarily changed who he is, but probably shaped who he is a little bit more,'' said Talley, in his fourth season at the helm. "Before he was vocal, now he is vocal, but he is echoing what the coaches are saying, putting his own little spin on it, being able to communicate it to the players.''
Talley was a bit disappointed following the 20-14 victory over Curry when Vachon chimed in, "Coach, smile, it's a win.''
"He has the right perspective,'' said Talley. "He gets it.''
Vachon really has a handle on the spread attack, which the Skyhawks implemented last season under offensive coordinator Jeremy Fellows. So much so that he knows the responsibilities of every other skill player in the huddle.
"It makes it easier, knowing what everyone else is doing, and it helps me out,'' he said.
With three sophomores starting on the offensive line and a quarterback, junior Tim Morrison, who has played well but can play better, that knowledge is invaluable.
"Like having another coach on the field,'' said Talley. "The other day, he told one of the kids, 'You can't keep making the same mistake.' It came from him, so it carries even more of a meaning to that kid.''
Explosive and versatile enough to step out wide as a receiver, Vachon has shifted gears in more ways than one this season.
When he trotted to the sideline last week after ripping off a 44-yard touchdown run on the Skyhawks' first play of the third quarter, one teammate cracked, "When did you get that fast?''
Vachon credits a conditioning program introduced by the coaching staff before last season that emphasized football strength and speed. "I followed the program all summer,'' he said.
"He worked so hard in the offseason, now he is pulling away from people,'' said Talley.
When Talley arrived on campus 4 1/2 years ago and scanned the Skyhawks' recruiting board, "The coaches said he's a real good player, we should keep him, and I was smart enough to listen . . . When you look at him on the field, he's definitely a kid that you would want on your team.''
As Talley has repeated more than once this season, "If Eddie does well, we do well.''
Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org