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It takes two: Johansen duo leads top area running back tandems

Given the opportunity to go it alone, Johansen High tailback Deven Cannon might be nearing a 2,000-yard season. But, Cannon quickly points out, it might come at a steep cost: a Modesto Metro Conference crown and his health.

"We can be a championship team with me and Will (Corbin) running the ball," he said. "Will is the thunder, and I'm the lightning. The two of us, we go real good together."

As the tandem goes, so goes Johansen — and that's been good news for both this fall.

The two have run for 1,930 yards and 28 touchdowns, putting Johansen on the cusp of an outright conference title and assuring it of a home game in next week's playoffs.

Johansen (6-3, 4-0 MMC) wraps up its regular season tonight at Downey (4-5, 2-2), which knocked the Vikings from the playoff race with an upset late last season.

The Vikings have won six of seven since starting 0-2, and Cannon is averaging 170 yards during this five-game winning streak.

He has set the school's single-season rushing and touchdown records with 1,264 yards and 19 TDs, breaking the old marks of 1,132 and 18.

Corbin, at 5 feet 11 inches and 180 pounds, is six inches taller and 28 pounds heavier than Cannon. He has run for 666 yards, most of them on runs up the middle.

"They are competitive and bring out the best in each other," coach Jason McCoy said.

Cannon averages 15 carries a game and is making them count: He's the Stanislaus District's No. 4 rusher and averages 9.2 yards per carry.

Speed makes Cannon difficult to catch once he gets into the open, but it's a strong line that sets up those long runs.

Center Andrew Webb (5-10, 265), guard Rodney Smith (6-1, 195) and tackle Aaron Lucas (6-0, 265) are the anchors, line coach Don Toscano said.

Corbin is getting nine carries and 74 yards a game, and he spends plenty of time clearing the way for Cannon, too.

"The way we run the ball, I think we're the Modesto team that can win a playoff game," said Corbin, well aware of the struggles Modesto public schools have faced in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

The last school to celebrate a playoff win on the field — Johansen was awarded a forfeit over Franklin of Stockton in 2006 — was Davis in 2000.

"Someone's gotta make that go away, and we think we can be the ones to do that," Corbin said. "This is our chance."

Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at restrada@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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