When it comes to credit, Marquette’s Chris Kreh likes to pass it around.
The 5-foot-11, 192-pound workhorse for the Mustangs, Kreh led the St. Louis region with a single-season school record 2,238 rushing yards last fall. He also scored 30 touchdowns. Both were school single-season records.
For his efforts, Kreh was named Suburban West Conference American Division’s Offensive Player of the Year. He also was picked as a Class 6 first-team all-state choice by the Missouri Football Coaches Association.
“I have to give it to the linemen,” Kreh said. “They work hard and they’re workhorses, too. I give all the credit to them.”
What’s good news for Kreh and bad news for Marquette’s opponents is that four of the Mustangs’ five linemen will return this fall if high school football is played. Coming back are Connor Thronberry, Neil Milczarek, Josh Howard and Zack Gawert.
Coach Michael Stewart said Kreh was right to share the accolades of his breakout season. His records were part of the team’s success.
“It speaks to the hard work that he and everyone else on this team put in. There are 11 guys on the field at once, and they all have a responsibility on each play,” Stewart said. “It was a great group of kids and a team that we hope to build from.”
Owning the two school records is a source of pride for Kreh.
“Yeah, I’ll admit that’s good,” Kreh said. “That’s always nice to have that hanging on the wall outside the locker room to see.”
As a sophomore on varsity, Kreh was a backup running back. He had 59 carries for 330 yards, an average of 5.6 yards per carry. He also scored three touchdowns. He played extensively on defense as a strong safety and he recorded 42 tackles, including and two tackles for a loss. He also had a fumble recovery.
“When Chris was coming up through the various levels of the program, it was obvious that his tireless work ethic was going to take him to some special places,” Stewart said. “He stepped into a varsity role as a sophomore at strong safety and performed at a high level. We knew that when Kyle Mill graduated, the run game would still perform at a high level on offense with Chris carrying the ball.”
Kreh enjoyed playing on defense.
“The seniors were good to me. They showed me what to do and how to succeed in the game,” Kreh said. “Overall, it was fun to learn that side of the football. I think that helped me on offense.”
Every offseason, Stewart said the coaching staff tries to identify its scheme based on the strengths of the personnel in the program. In the offense, Kreh showed what he was capable of doing. He describes himself as a “hard-nosed” running back.
“I like to run through people and not go around them,” Kreh said. “I don’t like to slow down. I’d say my strength and endurance are the two biggest things I possess as a running back. Toughness, you can throw that in there, too. If they want you get a yard or two, I try to get five.”
Stewart agreed with Kreh’s assessment.
“He’s a dynamic running back that combines speed and power,” Stewart said. “He has the breakaway speed if he sees any daylight past the line of scrimmage. His linemen do a great job of getting the work done, but Chris will never shy away from contact. He’s a very tough and hard-nosed athlete. He has a relentless pursuit of finding a path to victory.”
Practice time is a favorite part of his football routine, Kreh said.
While the pandemic thwarted much of the Mustangs’ summer camps and workouts, Kreh adapted. He has weights in his garage and he stayed in there and worked.
“I think I put in way more work this summer than last year,” Kreh said. “The virus didn’t change me too much in workouts.”
Stewart said Kreh knows what it takes.
“He knew if he wanted to be prepared for this season and the next level, he would have to find different ways to accomplish his individual goals for each day. I hope that he reaches each goal that he sets for himself. His No. 1 focus will always be the success of this program. We both hope to take this team as far as possible,” Stewart said.
“If we do get to play, I hope the team does good again,” Kreh said. “We don’t have to be state champs but I want us to play good and have a good time.
“If we don’t play, I hope the team still gets together. We can run together on the track. We won’t give up on working out.”
Kreh has ambitions to play after high school. He is being recruited by several colleges including Lindenwood, Missouri S & T, Pittsburg State, Northwest Oklahoma, Truman State and Grandview.
“The process has been pretty fun,” Kreh said. “I’ve made some good relationships. I’ve had a couple of offers. As of right now, I want to play in college.”