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Amazing feats nothing new for Buena Park's Boston
BUENA PARK — Deven Boston had just turned 14 years old when his mother, LaTonya, went on a two-week business trip to Chicago. It was August of 2010 and Boston was set to begin his freshman year at Buena Park High. At 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, he was LaTonya's little running back.
And then she returned home.
LaTonya will never forget the day she came back from Chicago, meeting her family at the airport and, for a moment, not recognizing her own son. Deven Boston had literally grown up over a fortnight.
"He grew two-and-a-half inches in two weeks," LaTonya said. "His shoe size had jumped from a nine and a half to a 12. He gained 20 pounds. He didn't have any clothes that fit. It didn't make any sense."
Welcome to one of perhaps many mystifying two-week spans in the life of Boston.
In the 14 days between Buena Park's season opener and last week's meeting with Magnolia, Boston, now a hulking 6-1, 205-pound junior, rushed for 824 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging an otherworldly 14.2 yards per carry in his team's three decisive victories. In the third game, a 51-12 defeat of Magnolia, he rushed for 410 yards and five touchdowns.
All of this has many wondering, how good is Boston and is Buena Park for real? The Coyotes' home game Thursday against JSerra of the Trinity League and Pac-5 Division might provide some answers.
"People are going to be watching," Boston said. "We're going to show them what we can do. Our family versus their team."
Family? Boston didn't use the term by accident.
Ask him about last week's career day and he deflects credit to his offensive linemen and his weight-lifting partners.
"I can trust the guys around me," Boston said. "I know they're going to do their job, so I can do my job. We're all brothers. We treat each other equally. I was real surprised with 400 yards. I did not expect that. But I expected my team's success. We've worked for it.
"I couldn't have done it without everyone supporting me."
That includes the Coyotes' coaching staff and head coach Anthony White, a former tailback who played at Utah under Urban Meyer. White arrived on the Buena Park campus at the same time Boston did and immediately sought out the quiet kid, befriending him before coaching him.
These days the two communicate in some facet every day, including before and after each practice.
"He's a father figure," Boston said.
It's what Boston needs now more than ever.
This past Mother's Day, Deven Boston's father, George, a first class operation specialist in the Navy, was deployed to an undisclosed part of the Middle East. He's been gone for four months and hopes to return to his family by Christmas.
"All service members find it tough and sometimes heartbreaking to be away from our families," George wrote in an email. "It's even tougher for me in that I'm not there to witness this incredible start."
Helping ease the pain is LaTonya sending him articles about Deven and the football program uploading its games in their entirety on Hudl. Hour-long Skype sessions every week have also been therapeutic for father and son. The two have always enjoyed their time together, especially when George would show Deven highlights of iconic tailbacks like Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, Earl Campbell and Roger Craig.
"I did this to try and fine tune the raw talent that he already has, and to give him ideas about different running styles," George said.
White said it's clear Deven took good mental notes.
"It's not just, he's open and he's faster than everybody," said White, noting Boston has begun to garner interest from several Pac-12 programs and a few Big Ten schools. "There's hard work and dedication and mental toughness and physical toughness that goes into being one of those top quality backs.
"He's not a coach watcher, someone that works hard (only) when the coach is watching him. He's a football player."
Deven is also very much a student. He initially struggled his freshman year, admitting he didn't take school as seriously as he should have, and ended up in White's academic boot camp. But he learned to reprioritize school over sports, a credit to his parents, both of whom have college degrees, and he now maintains a GPA above 3.0.
This fall he's taking AP calculus, chemistry honors, and Spanish III.
Deven said when he's on the field or in the classroom, his father, even though thousands of miles away, is the biggest driving force.
"I want to make him proud," he said.
Too late, George said.
"He wants to make me proud? I'm already proud and not just about football," George said. "He and his brother DeAngelo are helping to hold down the fort when I'm away."
Deven is used to growing into bigger shoes while one of his parents is gone.
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