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Terry Tamura is making his point

Golden Valley senior not afraid to fill big shoes at team’s running back

Posted: September 15, 2013 9:59 p.m.
Updated: September 15, 2013 9:59 p.m.
Golden Valley senior running back Terry Tamura is off to a strong start at running back for Golden Valley just three games into the season. Golden Valley senior running back Terry Tamura is off to a strong start at running back for Golden Valley just three games into the season.
Golden Valley senior running back Terry Tamura is off to a strong start at running back for Golden Valley just three games into the season.

Terry Tamura has always been a talented running back.

But at Golden Valley, he’s had to bide his time.

The Grizzlies are still looking for their first Foothill League victory in school history, but one place Golden Valley hasn’t struggled with in recent years has been running back — with Earl Johnson in 2010 and 2011, and University of Wisconsin player Leon Jacobs last season.

Needless to say, there wasn’t much room in the backfield for Tamura.

“I didn’t really feel that much frustration,” Tamura says of last season. “I was just coming in as a junior. It was (Jacobs’) first year, but he was a senior. I felt like I could have had a better season on defense than offense.”

This season, though, is a different story.

The quiet senior never said much when he wasn’t in the backfield, nor does he say much this season, despite excelling both on defense and at running back for the 1-2 Grizzlies.

“Replacing a Division I running back, he’s just been doing really well,” says Golden Valley quarterback, Robert Phillips. “He’s so humble and a very quiet guy, but when the Friday night lights come on, he’s always ready to play.”

That was evident when he took over in a game against Saugus last season after Jacobs went down with an injury.

In that game, Tamura burst onto the season, rushing 12 times for 71 yards and a touchdown.

And it was evident again on the Grizzlies’ first possession of the 2013 season, when Tamura ran 69 yards up the middle and untouched on the second offensive play to help Golden Valley snap a 17-game losing streak with a 34-28 win over Granada Hills.

“He won’t say much. He wants to lead through his play and what he does on Friday nights and obviously that’s a positive thing,” says Golden Valley head coach Robert Fisher. “When he’s going to go out there and give everything he’s got on Friday nights, a lot of players look at him in that way. He’s not afraid to come up and hit somebody and make a move and get outside.”

Tamura has been full of big plays all season.

In that first game he added an 89-yard kick return. In week two it was a 184-yard rushing performance and on Thursday he ran for an 87-yard touchdown against Highland.

But the excitement of a week one win has quickly diminished with back-to-back losses and Tamura has found himself needing to speak up.

By his own admission he doesn’t say much, but when he does, people listen.

“Actually I get really upset if my line doesn’t block,” Tamura says. “I start to get very vocal. I’ll go back to the huddle and scream and shout or at halftime if it’s close or people are frustrated, then I‘ll speak up. I feel like (my quiet nature helps). I don’t say much, but when I do say things, I feel like I get my point across.”

But with Tamura, it doesn’t necessarily take words to get his point across.

He’s more of the lead-by-example mode, according to coaches and teammates — and so far the example he’s setting is to work hard play-in and play-out.

His helmet features the word ‘EAT’ — which stands for effort, attitude, toughness.

“He embodies it a lot,” Phillips says. “He always gives effort, attitude and toughness on Friday nights and he’s just a complete player. He gives it his all and we use him a lot. He takes a beating a lot on Friday night and he delivers beatings on Friday nights, too. He’s such a good impact player.”

What he doesn’t do, though, is ask for accolades.

He’s not the kind of player to hype himself up, or check the morning papers for his name.

Tamura says he grew up playing football in the Canyon Outlaws youth program with players like Cade Apsay and Zach Cuha, who are both excelling at Canyon High School.

To an extent, says Tamura, he does get frustrated watching his former teammates find success while he endures struggles at Golden Valley.

But he also adds that he’s excited for his friends and former teammates, and sees an opportunity to help the Grizzlies erase the losing tradition and gain respect within the community.

“I feel like a league win is the only thing that would gain respect,” Tamura says. “I go on Twitter and no one thinks we would ever win a league game.”

He hopes to make an impact off the field, too. At least when he’s older.

The 17-year-old wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, Terence Tamura, and become a police officer.

At first glance it might seem the quiet teenager doesn’t have the personality for policing.

But then he speaks up and makes you listen.


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