Trevin Luben’s speed and elusiveness makes him an ideal running back in perfect football conditions.
The Wahoo junior, however, has the mindset that’s ideal when the weather is not so good.
Take the Class C-1 No. 3 Warriors’ 14-12 win over crosstown rival and No. 5 Bishop Neumann in week 7 of the regular season. On a rainy night with slick grass, Luben carried it 41 times for 232 yards and scored both of the Warriors’ touchdowns.
“I’ve always wanted to play a game in rainy, muddy conditions, so I can check that one off my bucket list,” Luben said.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder also wants to play a game in wintry conditions, and he may get his wish when the Warriors (10-1) go to No. 2 Aurora (11-0) for the semifinals of the Class C-1 playoffs Friday night.
An inch of snow is in the forecast for Thursday followed by a cold, blustery day Friday with a high of 32 during the day before temperatures fall back into the mid-teens after dark with a bit of a breeze.
“I hope it’s super-cold. I love playing cold-weather football,” said Luben, who has gone for 1,948 yards and 29 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. “That’s always something you dream about as a kid, playing a game in the snow.”
Luben was just starting to emerge as Wahoo’s go-to back when the Warriors lost at Aurora 55-21 in the third week of the regular season. Since then, he’s developed into a mirror-image of the back who played in front of him last season — all-stater Dylan Egr, who is now a freshman at Midland.
“Honestly, I never envisioned myself being able to fill Dylan’s spot. He was so good at everything he did and he did a lot for our team last year,” said Luben, who stood on the cold sidelines in last year’s Class C-1 semifinals when eventual state champion Norfolk Catholic defeated Wahoo 14-0.
“The one thing I learned from him is that hard work in the weight room pays off,” Luben said. “I knew I’d have to be mentally and physically tough to be able to withstand the pounding of carrying the ball up to 40 times a game. That’s where the offseason training really helped.”
The emergence of the offensive line — junior center Gunnar Vanek (6-3, 230), guards Brandon Swahn (5-11, 210, jr.) and Sam Kolterman (6-0, 205, sr.), tackles Jack Sutton (6-3, 235, sr.) and Callan Phillips (5-11, 220, jr.) and tight end Nate Fox (6-2, 185, jr.) — has also been a key part of Luben’s success.
“The job the line is doing up front has made it super-easy for me,” sad Luben, a cornerback on defense who has 31 tackles, a team-high three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Kolterman, an all-state linebacker, has 95 tackles and seven sacks this season, while another senior linebacker, Kole Brodovsky, has made 118 stops.
Wahoo’s rushing attack with Luben will also be used as a defensive tool to slow down an Aurora passing attack ignited by 6-6 senior left-hander Baylor Scheierman, a South Dakota State basketball recruit.
In the first meeting, Scheierman completed 28 of 38 passes for 431 yards and seven touchdowns. A trio of seniors — Cade Reichardt (47 catches, 851 yards, 13 TDs), Jordan Stevenson (46 catches, 693 yards, 13 TDs) and Cy Bullerman (44 catches, 833 yards, seven TDs) — have been his favorite targets.