Dec. 7, 2017 - Eastwood Running Back Jaden Rayford

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PEMBERVILLE, Ohio (WTVG) - Eastwood's football team just wrapped up its best season in school history. The Eagles lost in the OHSAA Division V State Championship game to Wheelersburg.

Eastwood ended the 2017 season with a 14-1 record.

Sophomore running back Jaden Rayford was a big part of the team's run to the state title game this fall.

No, literally.

Rayford accounted for nearly half of Eastwood's rushing yards and 89 percent of the team's offensive yards came on the groun.

"My freshman year, honestly I didn't push myself as hard as I could," Rayford said. "Throughout the process, I learned that I could do better things if I could just push through it and got it done."

First-year Eastwood head coach Craig Rutherford continued what his dad Jerry did for so many years with the Eagles and that's keep the ball on the ground.

"(Jaden is) obviously a special back," Craig Rutherford said. "For our offense to go, we need our fullback to be able to run the ball and to break some big plays off and that's what he did.

"I think going forward, obviously the more explosive plays that we can hit the easier it will be for our offense to score points."

Rayford had 35 touchdowns for the Eagles this season, which is by far the most on the team. He finished the year 57 yards off of Eastwood's single-season rushing record.

The sophomore is now second all-time in school history for career yards.

"On our team, I think we were pretty lucky in that nobody really cared who got the credit. It always felt like people were excited when other guys made plays and the offensive line loves block for whoever.

"They really enjoyed blocking for Jaden. I think they fed off his energy."

Rayford made large gains in the weight room during the off season, especially with multi-jointed leg exercises such as the squat and clean.

"I embraced my role and what I do, how much my team needs me and what I need to do to make sure we win every week and just that really gets me through I guess," Rayford said.