SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Washington is off to a 2-1 start this year, thanks in part to an offense that is scoring 33 points per contest. Their success has stemmed from their rushing attack led by the Taniah brothers.
Blessing Taniah had just 30 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns as a junior in 2020, but his role has expanded this year.
Blessing has taken over as Washington’s starting running back, though he has been sharing carries with the team’s second running back, who happens to be his younger brother, Elijah.
“Blessing and Elijah are fun young men, they really are. They’re always smiling, they’re always upbeat and then when you add the fact that they are super electric with the football, it’s very fun to have on your football team,” Washington head coach Ryan Evans said.
The Taniah brothers have taken more than 80% of the team carries this year, however, they’re just blessed to be sharing the field.
“It’s amazing because as a kid, we’d be in the back yard just playing, focusing, you know talking about what we want to accomplish,” Blessing Taniah said. “It’s just amazing to have your little brother with you through the journey.”
“Playing with my older brother feels amazing, because this is basically an only one-time thing this year and we’ve just got to give it our best,” Washington sophomore Elijah Taniah said.
Washington struggled to run the ball in the first two-quarters of the season. Since then, the offense has posted 93 points with more than a third of them coming from Blessing and Elijah.
“They’re always hungry. They’re willing to share the football, they’re willing to share the time. Neither of them are selfish, they’re self-less players,” Evans said. “They think about the team first and that’s fantastic to have.”
The duo’s 69 carries have led to a combined 451 yards and five touchdowns in just three games. Their success, however, has stemmed from the big guys upfront.
“First is always going to be the o-line, they’re the key to football because without an o-line, you really can’t do nothing and the o-line has been dominating every game and every play,” Elijah Taniah said.
Blessing and Elijah are just three games into the 2021 season and with five games left to play, the duo is hoping to make each other better on and off the field.
“We push each other on and off, not just in football, but we wrestle also. You know, we’re always trying to push each other on the wrestling mat, we run track,” Blessing said. “When in practice, who’s faster? You know, it just comes down to being a brother and you’re always going to have competition with your little brother trying to get better.”
“Seeing my brother on the field is amazing because every time he runs the ball, it makes me want to be out there running the ball too,” Elijah said. “It just feels great being next to him and playing.”
The Taniah brothers and Washington will be back in action on Friday, September 17 as they meet Harrisburg. That game will stream on KELOLAND.com with kick-off set for 6 p.m.