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Mack Packs Running Power Despite Size

November 15, 1996|PAIGE A. LEECH

VAN NUYS — At 5 feet 8 and 150 pounds, no one would mistake Carlos Mack of Van Nuys High for a power running back.

But looks can be deceiving, Coach Mark Pomerantz warns.

"He's not afraid to mix it up a bit," Pomerantz said. "He's surprised us."

With Mack in the backfield, Van Nuys (5-4) has surprised the Valley Pac-8 Conference with recent victories over North Hollywood and Monroe to secure third place and a City Section 3-A playoff berth.

Mack, the fourth-leading rusher in the conference with 822 yards, has already surpassed his predecessors of the past two seasons. Van Nuys hasn't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 1993, when Larry Reed rushed for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in 159 carries.

Mack, who became the Wolves' starting running back in the second game, could be the school's next ballcarrier to surpass the quadruple-digit mark.

Pomerantz said the Wolves ran the ball by committee at the beginning of the season.

"But he's really come on," Pomerantz said about Mack. "He runs with power and some finesse."

Despite his size, Mack runs primarily between tackles--and likes it that way.

"It's unusual for a guy my size, but I like it because I can hide behind all the big guys and just run," he said.

Mack's ability to find seams and gain ground has allowed the Wolves to abandon--for the most part--their passing game, which ranks 15th among the 17 area City teams.

Fact is, Mack's 5.4 yards-per-carry average is far better than the Van Nuys coaches expected.

"Our philosophy is three yards and a cloud of dust, if you can," Pomerantz said.

Truth be told, Mack's future has little to do with carrying the ball. San Diego State is courting him as a defensive back.

Mack's success has even helped his teammates change their minds.

"In the beginning, only a couple of guys [on the team] thought that we would make the playoffs," he said.

And Mack wasn't one of them.

"I didn't think we would be this good," he said.

What's that saying about good things in small packages?

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