Much like Venice High’s Matt Laroche this fall, former Sarasota High standout Mike Ford enjoyed a memorable record-book season 12 years ago.
Laroche, the Indians junior running back, broke Ford’s previous area record for most rushing yards in the regular season with 249 yards and three touchdowns last Friday in a 42-6 victory over visiting Booker. Laroche will enter this Friday’s Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal game against visiting South Fort Myers with 2,075 yards, 59 more than what Ford ran for in leading the Sailors to a Class 5A-District 11 championship.
So, how did Ford do in the Sailors’ first playoff game on Nov. 12, 2004? He only eclipsed Herb Haygood’s former school single-game rushing record of 359 yards with 368 and five touchdowns as Sarasota posted a 38-16 win over Naples Lely at Cleland Stadium at Ihrig Field.
The game served as another springboard for Ford, who would finish his senior season with a then state single-season record of 2,836 yards and 37 touchdowns following the Sailors’ 23-0 loss to Riverview in the Class 5A-Region 3 championship game the day after Thanksgiving.
Ford would sign with the University of Alabama in February of 2005, but he would play three seasons (2007-09) at the University of South Florida after spending time at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. He rushed for 1,502 yards and 23 touchdowns, including 12 in 2007, in a collegiate career that also him claim MVP Honors at the 2009 International Bowl in Toronto.