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LaCoste's story at Air Force carries the ring of a literary tale

November 14, 2013 Updated: November 14, 2013 at 7:35 pm
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photo - Air Force's Anthony LaCoste, left, carries the ball as New Mexico's Brandon Branch (36) and Ryan Santos (12) close in to make the tackle in the second half of an NCAA college football game on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Albuquerque, N.M.  New Mexico defeated Air Force 45-37. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Air Force's Anthony LaCoste, left, carries the ball as New Mexico's Brandon Branch (36) and Ryan Santos (12) close in to make the tackle in the second half of an NCAA college football game on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Albuquerque, N.M. New Mexico defeated Air Force 45-37. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) 

Anthony LaCoste's sudden and late emergence to stardom with Air Force can be assessed as much from a literary perspective as from the sports lens.

The senior running back is either a feel-good story, a career role player who put team first and finally had a chance to shine at the end. Or he's a tragic figure, a talent hidden without an opportunity until the final weeks of his career.

"It's unfortunate timing, but it's still pretty sweet," LaCoste said. "I can't complain. ... It's been a long road with lots of obstacles, but eventually my hard work paid off."

LaCoste had just 406 career rushing yards prior to the Army game Nov.?2. Since then he's piled up a program record 440 yards over two games and is a legitimate threat to reach 1,000 yards this season. He must average 110 yards over the final two games to get there.

The obvious question is, why did it take so long for Air Force to know what it had?

"Health was a big thing," coach Troy Calhoun said of LaCoste, who has struggled with injuries to both knees during his time at the academy. "I thought in August he still had a little favor to his leg and he had trouble with an ankle in September.

"Also I've thought we've blocked better in the past few weeks."

Perhaps an unintended byproduct of his slow ascension into a featured-back role is that LaCoste's legs seem extra fresh. Of the 45 rushing attempts he's had in the past two weeks, eight of those have been broken for 10 or more yards - including four of 40-plus with two going for more than 70. During that time he's also returned six kickoffs, each for 20 or more yards with a long of 45.

Again, where has all of this been?

Last year LaCoste spent a good portion of the season playing safety when injuries left the team thin at that spot. Calhoun has lauded the unselfishness of LaCoste's move and said the team would not have gone to a bowl game without it.

This year LaCoste has split time with Jon Lee. That's difficult to dispute, considering Lee holds a 6.7 career yards per carry that places him in the top five in program history. Among those above Lee? LaCoste, tied at No.?1 with 7.5 yards per carry.

Lee hasn't played the past two weeks because of injuries.

In his last turn as a featured back, LaCoste had 6,422 yards in high school at Oregon's West Albany High School.

Though this story is about to end, there may be a sequel in the works. Anthony's brother, Jake, is tearing through the Oregon record books and has left his brother's career rushing marks well behind him.

Anthony believes Jake will try to follow in his footsteps and attend Air Force. We'll have to see what kind of narrative plays out the second time around.

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