Elisha Ortiz wasn’t quite sure what to expect coming into his freshman season as a running back at Bakersfield College. He was even nervous about how a new year on a new team would go.
What’s transpired through the first seven games of the year has been “shocking to me and a great journey so far,” the Stockdale graduate said.
Ortiz has turned into the featured back in BC’s offense. He leads the team with 75.9 rushing yards per game and 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. He’s second on the team with 19 receptions, and his 12 total touchdowns on the year account for half of the team’s total.
“He has a lot of talent,” BC head coach Jeff Chudy said. “Nobody’s gonna deny that. ... He’s one of the few guys that can score anytime he touches the ball whether it’s running the ball, catching the ball, blocking a punt. He can do it all.”
Ortiz will be looking to up that total when Bakersfield College faces a vulnerable Santa Monica defense in BC’s last home game of the regular season on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Corsairs are 63rd in the state in yards allowed (433.9) and 64th in points allowed (39.1) per game.
Ortiz was on a mission to earn his coaches’ trust when he stepped on BC's campus. He committed himself to doing whatever they asked. That landed Ortiz on every special teams unit. He might be the only player on the team able to make that claim, Chudy said.
“For some guys, it becomes a burden,” Chudy said. “It’s not, for him. He understands his role. … He’s gonna do whatever anybody asks him to do as a coach.”
His carries grew from an average of 10.6 per game in the first three contests to 20.3 in the most recent trio of games. Ortiz has accounted for five of the Renegades last six offensive touchdowns.
What works well for Ortiz is his vision, he said. He spots holes and is his most effective on zone-read runs plays. He would consider himself elusive .
Ortiz can make tacklers miss in the hole or behind the line and his breakaway speed makes him hard to catch. He had a season-long run of 45 yards last game and has multiple catches over 40 yards.
The only two offensive drives that ended in BC touchdowns against Cerritos were sprung by runs of more than 30 yards from Ortiz.
“He doesn't need a big crease and a lot of times he’s making something out of nothing, so he’s special,” Chudy said.
It’s helped that the young offensive line has picked up its play as the season has progressed, Chudy said.
Ortiz is often able to leak out of the backfield on swing routes either uncovered or with an overmatched linebacker on his tail.
He isn’t too concerned with the statistics, Ortiz said, and is focused on improving his pass blocking, which is a weakness in his game. Even five rushes for 10 yards this week would be fine with him, as long as BC exits with a win.
“I’m happy with where I’m at, but I feel like I still have a lot of more stuff coming,” Ortiz said.