ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — It’s time to take a trip down memory lane to look back on the legendary career of one of the best in the NIC-10.
East’s Javius Catlin has proven himself to be one of the top running backs in conference history, but he’s overcome a lot to get to this point.
“I just did what I was waiting to do,” said the star senior.
It was something he’s been waiting to do since he was seven years old.
“I always knew I wanted to play football. I always told my dad I want to go play DI football, I want to go to the NFL, I always told him that.”
There are very few names that reach the ultimate peak in high school football, the one’s that will go down in history. But East’s Javius Catlin is one of them, and it started from the very first time he put on that varsity uniform.
“His first carry was a 91-yard touchdown in the varsity game,” said East head coach Gary Griffin.
Catlin’s freshman year was during COVID, so it was a shortened six-game season. He played the first game on JV, then spent the rest of the year on varsity.
“My sophomore year, I really just wanted to prove to people what I can really do,” said Catlin.
Oh, and he proved it. That year he became just the second sophomore in NIC-10 history to rush for over 1,000 yards.
“You’re 145 pounds and you’re carrying the ball 25, 30 times a game, that ain’t nothing to speak about,” said Griffin.
Javius has been the main component in the E-Rabs backfield for three years now.
“I’d give it to him every time if I can get away with it, why not?”
That’s East football for ya. They do it the blue-collar way, on the ground and in between the tackles.
“That’s what we’ve taught him since the minute he got here,” said Griffin. “Three and a half yards per carry, clock keeps moving, chain keeps moving again, game keeps moving.”
But sometimes, the game stops — and it did for Javius when he fractured his ankle the summer leading into his junior season.
“I jumped in the air for a ball, and I came down and I just rolled it,” said Catlin. “I went to the doctor, and they told me it was broke and I had to get back in the boot. It was just on and off, mixed emotions, it was a lot I ain’t gonna lie.”
An injury that caused him to miss the first three games of the 2022 season.
“When he ain’t here, everything’s in slow motion,” said Griffin smiling.
But he came back in full force, ready to make up for lost time. He went on to rush for over 700 yards and nine touchdowns that season.
Now we are nearing the end of his senior year, and it hasn’t been short on its challenges either. East lost nine starters right before the beginning of the season.
“It is what it is. That’s life. That’s high school football. And that’s what we use this game for, is to teach life lessons.”
Real strength is shown in the face of adversity, and if you learn anything about Javius, it’s this; he’s always going to lower his shoulder and tackle every problem head-on.
“He’s just tough as nails,” said Griffin. “I’ve been coaching 30 years and I’ve never had a kid that worked harder than he does.”
And all that hard work has led him here. He’s less than 500 yards away from becoming the NIC-10’s all-time leading rusher.
“I mean, to say you’re the all-time leading rusher in your conference is history,” said Griffin.
And that doesn’t weigh lightly on Catlin, but he’s still one of the humblest kids you will ever meet, everything he does is for his team.
“It would just mean all the work, what I put in for football, it just means like, all the hard work I done did, it just shows for that record.”
412 is the magic number after week six, with two games left.
“I wouldn’t put anything past him,” said Griffin.
And neither should you.
“That’s all they really talk about is ‘ah you gotta chance to do something nobody else never has done,'” said Catlin smiling. “I would love to yeah; I would love to.”