In the 1980s and 1990s, the Chicago Bears’ William “Refrigerator” Perry was an anomaly. At 6’2” and 335 lbs., he was one of the biggest guys to ever play pro football. Even more impressive, although his size screamed “lineman,” he would, every once and a while, play running back.
Now there’s a high schooler that rivals “The Fridge’s” size.
Tony Picard is a senior at White Swan High School in White Swan, Washington, and according to the school’s roster, the team’s running back is 6’4”, 400 lbs.
“It’s so much fun to have him go out [on the field] as a captain and see him shaking hands before the game,” says White Swan’s coach Andrew Bush. They’re just kind of staring, like ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding me!”
Picard said he gets his size from his mother’s side. She is 5’11” and her brother was 6’5”, 275 lbs in high school and had a full scholarship to USC before a car accident ended his football career.
Picard started out as a lineman, and still plays defensive nose tackle, but he was faster than one expected. Bush says this became evident at a football camp a couple of years ago. During time away from football, they would sometimes play a game of basketball.
“He was so agile and making shots from way out there,” Bush recalls. “I said ‘I’ve got to use this somehow.’”
When he switched him to running back, Bush gave Picard two instructions: average 4 yards per carry and don’t fumble. In the first 10 games this season, he has averaged about 5 yards per carry.
“Most teams will sacrifice five guys to stop him: four linemen and a middle linebacker. That leaves three guys on each side to stop the rest of our team,” Bush says. “Everything else opens up: our outside running, our play action, and our entire passing game. We average about 450 yards as a team offensively.”
“I kind of make a path for the smaller guys to score and serve as a decoy,” Picard says. Despite being a decoy, he has been running for about 80-120 yards per game, and usually scores a touchdown or two.
The team has clinched a spot in the Washington State football championships and holds the number one spot in their division. This marks the fifth time in the past six years that White Swan has gone to state.
Bush says he will miss Picard, a “crowd favorite,” when he graduates next year. “Chances are he’ll be recruited as a lineman, but there’s always the chance that he’ll get his chance to carry the ball on those short touchdown runs. It’s tough to stop 400 pounds!”
Picard has talked to a few college coaches, but hasn’t made a decision about where he will play next year.
“It’s just not going to be as much fun,” Bush says about next season without Picard. “When we come out of the locker room and watch the other team’s heads; they’ll [no longer] turn and look at what they’re going to have to tackle.”
White Swan High School is not in Yakima, Washington. It's in White Swan, Washington.