It was 67 yards of silence for Tre Washington.
In typical fashion for No. 22, he opened up Derby’s 24-6 sub-state win over Manhattan with a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
After hearing an immediate burst from the home crowd, Washington’s mind sat silent as he sprinted down the home sideline. The back set his focus on the end zone, an area he reached 27 times as a junior.
Swarmed by his teammates as he scored, his “mental speakers” then reached max volume.
That touchdown was one piece of a puzzle that has made the now senior one of Kansas’ premier running backs.
Washington has tormented defenses and kickoff/punting units for three years thanks to his lengthy list of athleticism on his résumé. As he now prepares for one more year in a Derby uniform, Washington has built upon the versatility that made him a do-it-all back through the last 12-plus months.
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” Washington said. “We’re seniors now, but it feels like I was in Little League not too long ago. I’m real excited.”
Is there a way to shut down No. 22?
His numbers make options look bleak for opposing defenses.
Washington scored three touchdowns on the ground in each of Derby’s first three games last fall. The year also included a five-score game against Hutchinson in a 63-0 shutout. He finished the season with 10 games of at least 100 yards rushing.
As he opens up the 2019-20 campaign, he doesn’t have to look back far to find building blocks for his final year as a Panther.
Five Manhattan defenders were on the business end of Washington’s jukes that November evening. One week later, he sealed Derby’s fourth state championship since 2013 with a 59-yard run against BV North.
Even as he and his teammates hoisted the 2018 Class 6A state championship trophy, the senior isn’t satisfied.
As a freshman, he saw Derby beat Blue Valley for a second-straight year. One year later, it set the course for his final three years as a Panther.
“My sophomore year we lost, so we knew we had to win [last year],” Washington said. “We had to get it back to Derby because we win state championships. You picture it, but when you actually do it, you’re grateful. I definitely want that feeling again.”
Now entering his second year as a projected starter, Washington isn’t taking it for granted.
Through his first two years at Derby, the speedster complemented former running back Brody Kooser as he went on to set numerous school records.
With only one year left in his Panther career, he said his first two years helped him become the player he dreamt of being.
“I knew I had to wait my time,” Washington said. “Derby is a great program with great players … I knew if I waited and worked through my sophomore year, it was only going to make me better.”
The senior is also the beneficiary of a monstrous offensive front, including tackles Alex Conn (6-6, 280), Philip Icenhour (6-4, 280), guards Jonas Vickers (6-1, 285) and Jackson Davis (6-1, 280) and center Kevin Washington (5-11, 315).
“[Basically] 90 percent of the time, they’re going to make it easy for me and I’ve got to hit the hole and make people miss,” Washington said. “It’s amazing and our line is even bigger than it was last year.”
One of his biggest areas he hopes to improve is a series of turnovers that marred otherwise great performances against Maize in the final week of the regular season and against BV North in the state title game.
“I don’t want to have any this year,” the senior said. “That just comes with getting stronger and carrying the ball better, so it’s an easy fix.”
His teachable nature is what gives running backs coach Todd Olmstead confidence that he’ll persevere in his final year at Derby.
“As a freshman, everything was about how athletic he is and that he’s the best athlete all of the time,” he said. “You have to learn just because you’re the best athlete, doesn’t mean that you’re the best on the field. He’s playing against all of the best athletes and he’s grown up a ton.”