A year ago, defenses didn't have too much trouble bringing down Surrell Briggs within a few yards of the line. The tailback ran hard, but he also was predictable -- starting in one direction and rarely straying.
Briggs is a different runner this year, however, and his improvement has Beyer in line to win the Modesto Metro Conference title. The 5-foot-9-inch, 185-pounder now cuts back on some runs, forcing defenders to pursue with caution -- for fear he might reverse field.
The cutbacks helped Briggs run for a school-record 230 yards, and score four second-half TDs, in a 41-25 win over Davis that moved Beyer into a first-place tie. The Patriots can clinch at least a share of the title -- their second in a row -- by beating Enochs Friday.
Briggs is averaging six yards a carry and has 894 yards, including three games with at least 100 yards. He never topped 80 yards in a game as a junior.
-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA