Try this name on for size:
Luigi Lista-Brinza -- seven syllables, seven vowels and 16 letters.
If you think tackling his name is difficult, then ask opponents how hard it is to get a grasp on Central Catholic's 5-foot-9, 187-pound senior running back.
For example, Lista-Brinza had a run of 56 yards and two 7-yard scampers, all resulting in trips to the end zone as the Vikings (4-0, 3-0) defeatedCanon-McMillan, 56-0, on Sept. 13.
"On that long run, it was great blocking from the offensive line," said Lista-Brinza, a McKees Rocks resident. "They picked up the blitz, I made one cut and then took it in."
Simply put and perfectly executed, but nothing is simple about Lista-Brinza's game.
"He made a couple nice moves in the open field, then he was off," Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said.
And off he went for 170 yards gashing the Big Macs defense on run after run.
It was more of the same last Friday as Lista-Brinza romped for 203 yards on 21 carries in a 49-10 rout of Fox Chapel.
Totten said Lista-Brinza is a tough inside runner with a big offensive line that does a great job opening holes and getting him to the second level.
In four games this season, Lista-Brinza has 741 yards rushing for the season on 79 carries -- an impressive 9.4 yards per carry average -- and with nine touchdowns, he already has tied a career high in that category through four games.
Aside from his running skills, Totten said his versatility allows him to make plays all over the field.
"He has good hands, we swing him out of the backfield and put him in the slot," Totten said. "Luigi is a downhill runner ... tough. He's a one-cut-and-go guy, has good vision and good speed. He's a dangerous player."
Because of his talents to impact the game in a multitude of ways, Lista-Brinza patterns his style of play after two all-pro players who affect the game at their respective positions.
"Adrian Peterson runs hard down the field with so much speed," Lista-Brinza said. "I try to do the same by putting my shoulder down and run over people if I have to. I believe I'm a combination of both power and speed."
As far as catching passes in the slot -- he has six receptions for 76 yards this season -- he wasn't shy of pointing out the other player he emulates.
"I like playing the slot a lot, I'm a lot like Wes Welker," he said. "It helps out my quarterback a lot and it opens up holes in the running game."
With a name such as Lista-Brinza, he is used to hyphenating his skills and helping out his team in any way possible.
Does Welker-Peterson have a nice ring to it?
"I don't have a middle name, but you can make one up for me," he laughed.
Before Lista-Brinza arrived at Central Catholic as a freshman, he had already made a name for himself in another sport -- basketball. As an eighth grader, he led St. Malachy School in Kennedy to a Pittsburgh Diocesan championship.
He played point guard on Central's freshman team where he said he brought the same scrappy and hustling style of play with a "nice little Steve Nash pull-up."
Lista-Brinza's hard running caused him to battle through a high ankle sprain that he sustained in the first week of training camp last season, but that didn't stop him from "pushing through" the injury.
He had a productive junior year despite his lingering injury, coming 40 yards shy of 1,000 yards with five touchdowns. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry. For his career, he has piled up 2,843 yards and scored 28 touchdowns.
"You never want to see a good player and kid like him miss games," said Fox Chapel coach Eric Ravotti, a former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker whose Foxes lost to Central Catholic last Friday.
"He was hurt last year, which was good for us," Ravotti said.
Ravotti said Lista-Brinza is "very underrated" and doesn't get the credit he deserves. He called him "the best [running back] we'll see all season."
"He's like lightening in a bottle," Ravotti said. "He's not the biggest guy, but he's a downhill runner who hits the hole with so much velocity.
Ravotti knew what to expect before last week's game.
"It's no question he will hurt us, but the question is: How bad will he hurt us?" he said before the game.
The answer was: Plenty!
Kelton Brooks: firstname.lastname@example.org First Published September 27, 2013 4:45 AM