HOBART — Senior running back DJ Lipke learned to be patient last season. He didn’t really have a choice.
Sitting behind Sal Valle on the Hobart depth chart, Lipke averaged 5.2 yards on 55 carries. Lipke knew he wouldn’t move ahead of a proven senior teammate to become the Brickies' featured back. Still, Lipke couldn’t help but think he could do more.
It tested him.
“Playing behind somebody like that, it’s hard,” Lipke said. “You know he’s a great player, but I also knew my ability this whole time. It was tough, believe me, but I kept my mouth shut and waited my turn. This year I came in with a chip on my shoulder and ready to show who I am.”
The 2018 season came and went, Valle graduated and Lipke inherited the starting job he waited for.
He’s responded in dominant fashion having taken 189 carries for 952 yards and 15 scores. His latest work came in Hobart’s 65-0 shutout of Munster on Friday. In that gamne, Lipke ran 15 times for 150 yards and four scores in less than a half.
“(Lipke) could have started for us as a junior and he probably knows that, but we had our guy in Sal,” Hobart coach Craig Osika said. “We knew what we had waiting. He stayed patient and really trusted the process. Now he’s reaping the benefits of it.”
Lipke — who also happens to be Hobart’s No. 2 golfer — didn’t have much trouble carving up Munster’s defense behind senior fullback Tyler Schultz and the offensive line. The blocking, Lipke said, is key to it all.
He made it clear to his offensive linemen at the start of the year that he had a personal goal of getting to 1,000 yards on the season. With just 48 yards to go, that seems a realistic goal.
“I told my guys up front and begged and pleaded with them to get me to 1,000 yards,” Lipke said. “I told them, ‘You guys have to make this happen for me.’ I can’t do it alone. It’s all about the team and the guys I’ve got in front of me.”
At Hobart practices, Lipke said he likes to experiment with different runs and angles of attack. That way, he can still gain yards during games even when the running lanes may disappear.
“DJ is as good as they come when it comes to making some of the cuts he makes,” Osika said. “Some of that stuff, you just can’t teach.”
Lipke and the Brickies (6-2, 4-0) can win the Northwest Crossroads Conference outright and extend their winning streak to seven games with a victory against Lowell (5-3, 3-1) Friday before the start of sectionals.
His patience appears to be being rewarded.
“I think things are starting to come together,” Lipke said. “We’re ready to make a run.”