Thunder Mountain's calling card this season has been its ability to run the football, and spearheading the attack with eye-popping statistics is senior Cameron Fronimos.
Fronimos has emerged as one of the state's top rushers, topping the 1,000-yard mark on the season with 1,094 on just 104 carries for a mind-boggling average of 10.5 yards per carry. He has also run for 15 touchdowns in eight games and thrown for two touchdowns in just four attempts. As if that weren't enough, he also leads the defense in solo tackles with 52, and has two fumble recoveries and an interception, which he returned 50 yards for a touchdown.
He said he doesn't necessarily model his running style after another player, though Emmitt Smith is his favorite running back of all time.
"I actually started out as a lineman when I played peewee," said Fronimos, who grew up in the Juneau Youth Football League. "Once I got a little older, I became a quarterback, and I was a quarterback all the way through Junior and Senior leagues. My freshman year, I was the JV quarterback for coach (Bill Byouer) at JDHS."
Fronimos then moved up to varsity as a sophomore, where he played fullback and linebacker. He then transferred to Thunder Mountain last season and sat out the first few games after starting late. Camden Thomas already had earned the starting quarterback position, so Fronimos filled in at running back, where he ended up becoming one of the Falcons' top threats.
But it was nothing compared to what he's been able to do this season.
"Something just clicked," he said. "I picked up some running back skills from Ty (McMichael). Ty's an awesome running back; he's just had a few injuries he's had to deal with. I think I'm just kind of lucky."
Fronimos credited the line's ability to open up holes for he and the other runners in the Falcons' backfield, which includes fellow senior Jesse Conrad, who has put up huge numbers with 603 yards and five touchdowns on just 85 attempts.
"Our line is huge. They average around 240-250 pounds," he said. "It really helps out. And they're not just big, they're fast. Tyrel (Kramp) and Jordan (Hakala), they can both run their 40(-yard dash) in under five seconds, and they're quick, big guys."
Fronimos racks up the numbers while linemen traditionally don't get the accolades skill position players do, but the Thunder Mountain line takes it in stride.
"At the beginning of the year, coach (Roger) Cox said something that's very true: 'Linemen don't get the glory, linemen don't get the girls. Linemen, we have each other.' We know we run the show in a sense, and it takes 11 men to move the ball," said junior right tackle Aaron Corcoran. "We feel good about all of our running backs, and they all have pretty good numbers, so that's a good feeling because what they do reflects on us.
"Hearing about how many yards those guys get and looking at how many times (quarterback Camden Thomas) has been touched, which is only twice the whole season, things like that are a confidence boost," he continued. "It lets you know that you're doing your job right and doing the best that you can to make holes, keep people off your quarterback and make plays work."
Corcoran said the whole line must work as one.
"We breathe, we move as one," he said. "You can tell when somebody messes up because it definitely looks wrong because we are usually all together."
Fronimos is a good student with a 3.7 grade-point average this year, and an avid outdoorsman. He also wrestles for Thunder Mountain, finishing fifth in the state last year in his weight class. He also plans to try his hand at basketball and baseball this season.
If he doesn't go into the armed forces, his love for wrestling and football has him looking at colleges that offer both sports.
Colorado State University and the Air Force Academy are possible schools with football and wrestling programs.
"Depending on how this year turns out, I think I'm going to have a pretty good year wrestling," he said. "I started in sixth grade and my dad used to wrestle. I decided I'd go out for it and it turned out I was pretty good at it and I stuck with it."
But first things first: Thunder Mountain has a date with traditional 3A power Soldotna on Saturday.
"We're really focused right now," he said. "It's a whole different atmosphere. We want to come out and pop them in the mouth. We want to get that score up as fast as we can and keep running it down their throats. We don't want to let up, and keep the tempo going."
So far this season, no one has been able to slow Fronimos and the undefeated Falcons.
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