Some are diminutive and dart off tackle for yards.
Others bull their way down the field, their legs serving as driving pistons.
The high school running back has been a feature attraction in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, where every rush is critical in extending drives and seasons. Center aims to make school history behind a small back known for his large gains. Elk Grove, Franklin and Oak Ridge benefit from having two top running backs pushing each other. Burbank tops them all with three 1,000-yard rushers the area's first school to accomplish that in a 10-game regular season.
In Loomis, Del Oro senior Brandon Monroe hasn't been slowed in recent weeks by a bulky knee brace. He missed three games because of a strained knee ligament but has been on a tear in the past month, rushing for 907 yards and 12 touchdowns in four victories. Monroe's effort includes a 225-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 45-21 win over Yuba City in a Division II opener and a 297-yard, three-touchdown game in a 21-10 victory over St. Mary's-Stockton in the quarterfinals.
"It's ridiculous what Brandon's doing right now, just insane," Del Oro offensive coordinator Jeff Dietrich said at practice this week.
Said head coach Casey Taylor: "Brandon's got the best vision and lateral cuts I've seen, and then he's at top speed. It's fun to watch. Late this season, we decided we've got to give it to him a lot, and we are. We'll give it to him 30 to 35 times if we have to."
Monroe and the Golden Eagles line up Friday night against Elk Grove, which features two 1,000-yard runners in Robert Frazier and Wadus Parker.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Monroe has rushed for 1,339 yards and 14 touchdowns and has verbally committed to San Jose State.
"I feel very fortunate," Monroe said, acknowledging the statistic that less than 1 percent of prep athletes receive college scholarships.
Center's D'Juan Bellaire doesn't look the part of recordbreaking running back at 5-6 and 165 pounds. But he leads the region with 2,081 yards and 27 touchdowns for the dark horse Cougars in the Division IV field.
"He's just a great runner with so much heart," Center coach Digol J'Beily said. "We've had a resurgence this year, and he's a huge reason. He's hard to tackle."
Frazier and Parker of Elk Grove have been a 1-2 act since youth football, when they were called "Thunder and Lightning."
A senior, Frazier is a breakaway threat who is much stronger than his 5-8, 180-pound frame suggests. He has 1,969 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Parker, a 5-9, 190-pound junior, is the power back in the Herd's wing-T scheme. He has 1,184 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Herd coach Chris Nixon rotates the backs, who benefit from sophomore fullback Spencer Sheff, meaning fresh legs for weary defenses when the fourth quarter comes around.
"Teams have to stop one of us or both of us, but it hasn't happened," Parker said.
Across town, Franklin has carved out a 12-0 record thanks in large part to three running backs. The key, coach Mike Johnson said, is fullback Steven Rogers, who has paved the way for Kyran Harris and Christian Fonbuena.
"Steven's the workhorse, the reason it works, and we have two 4.5, 40-yard guys for a three-headed monster," Johnson said. "They can run by people or through them. It's very nice to have."
Harris has rushed for 944 yards and 17 scores. Fonbuena has gone for 884 yards and 11 touchdowns. Rogers has 652 yards and eight TDs. The three seniors are each in the 5-8, 185-pound range.
"We're all rooting for each other, too," Fonbuena said. "We all do something different."
Burbank is 12-0 for the first time since opening its doors on Florin Road in 1963. In those 49 years, the Titans haven't had a trio of runners quite like Isaiah Williams, Calvin Green and quarterback Ernest Jenkins, who leads the triple-option attack more as a runner than passer.
Williams, a 5-6, 190-pound senior, runs for his teammates and pride and said football has kept him out of trouble.
"It's saved me," he said. "A lot of us really need each other and this game. That's why we run so hard. Every carry, every game it means something for us and our families and this school."
Williams can carry tacklers or zip past them. He has 1,948 yards and 26 touchdowns. His nickname is "TD." A 5-10, 170-pound junior, Green goes by "Flash" for his ability to jet past foes. He has 1,197 yards and 14 touchdowns. Jenkins, a 5-10, 175-pound junior, has been masterful in deciding when to keep or pitch the ball. He has 1,333 yards and 14 scores.
Oak Ridge is the most balanced team in the playoffs, averaging 184 yards rushing and 182 passing. The runners are virtual clones, statistically, but different in ability.
Josh Wellman, a 5-9, 180-pound junior, has rushed for 840 yards and 11 scores. He's a patient runner, picking his moment to attack the line. Blake Martin, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior, runs full speed on every carry. He has 864 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"We're thrilled at what they've done," Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said. "We rotate them every play, and one is rooting for the other as the most supportive teammates who love each other's success. We wouldn't be here without them."