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Husky RB Target Schlenbaker Hard to Tackle, Easy to Pronounce

For a short five-game season, the Squalicum High runner set a personal goal of 1,000 yards rushing and made it happen.

Teams have had no more success tackling running back Djouvensky Schlenbaker than stadium announcers seemingly have in pronouncing the extra-long name belonging the 2022 Washington Husky target.  

It just looks tough.

"It's Schlen, then Baker — like Mount Baker," said his mom, pointing to the nearby North Cascades range while rolling her eyes.  "It's really not difficult." 

Approaching the abbreviated spring football season, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Schlenbaker of Squalicum High School in Bellingham, Washington, set his sights on climbing another mountain.

"My goal was to rush for 1,000 yards this season," he said.

Once thought to be a lofty goal given Squalicum's 5-game season, he actually may have aimed low. With a 62-yard run, he eclipsed the mark in the third quarter against Oak Harbor on Saturday. He finished the night with 246 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 22 carries.

Sitting at 822 yards heading into the final game, Schlenbaker finished with 1,046 yards.

He sits at 3,430 career rushing yards with a season and a half under his belt, and is on the cusp of Whatcom County's all-time top 10.

Schlenbaker began the season at No. 38 after coming up with the sixth-best season in county history with 2,148 yards in 11 games as a sophomore in 2019, according to whatcompreps.com.

This season, he passed all of the Lockers from Ferndale, who include Jake Locker and other family members, moving into the 11th spot.  

The pandemic has been the only thing that has slowed his ascension up the Whatcom County rushing chart. 

Last April, Air Force was the first to offer Schlenbaker, followed by Virginia Tech.

In July, the Huskies presented a scholarship offer to him.

California, Colorado and Washington State followed with their own.

As another big-back target for the Huskies, Schlenbaker grew enamored with a much smaller UW runner who methodically stepped through Pac-12 defenses.

"I watched Myles Gaskin growing up," he said. "I loved to watch how patient he was, staying behind his line and picking his spots."

Four inches taller than Gaskin, Schlenbaker showed more patience as the season went along.

It worked on his fifth and sixth carries against Oak Harbor, going for touchdowns of 20 and 45 yards.

He rushed for 544 yards over his final two games, including 297 yards on 38 carries the week before against Sehome.

Then the season ended. 

It's anybody's guess where he may have ended up with a full slate.

As he rewrites the county rushing records at a frenetic pace, he's taking the recruiting process slowly.

"I'm going to look at things and see where I fit best and what suits me best," he said. "I really don't have an idea."