When starting running back Connor Adrian went down with a shoulder injury in Staples’ second game against Wilton last year, it was the classic case of ‘next man up.’

That next man was then sophomore Ethan Burger, and he FCIAC by storm to the tune of 1,260 yards and 11 touchdowns. The duo are now ready to deliver a 1-2 punch to the rest of the league as the Wreckers look to end a two-saeason postseason drought in 2015.

On a goal line play as time expired in the first half against the Warriors, Adrian — now a senior captain — hurt his shoulder in the big pile. He was on his way to a big game with 16 carries for 91 yards in the first half alone.

Burger picked up right where Adrian left off, rushing for 131 yards on 17 carries in a 24-0 win.

“When I got hurt Ethan exploded; I was more in awe and happy for the guy,” Adrian said. “The crazy things he was doing for his size; I pretty much told him to keep his head up and if you continue this you’ll be one of the best running backs we’ve had here.”

Adrian was down for several minutes and the injury was thought to be severe. Fortunately it was not and he was able to return to the lineup soon after as a complimentary back to Burger. The duo — who are also lacrosse teammates — combined for more than 1,500 yards and collectively averaged 6.0 yards per carry in the Wreckers’ option attack.

“Any time you return a 1,000-yard rusher you’re pretty excited about that, and Connor has been very good in the spring and preseason,” Staples coach Marce Petroccio said.

Their styles complement one another on the field. Burger is a bruising back who is difficult to tackle; a 3-yard run turns into an 8-yard gain repeatedly with his ability to fall forward.

“The best thing (Burger) does is he finishes the run,” Petroccio said. “He doesn’t go backwards too many times, if it all. He’s got great vision, the ability to jump cut and stay on his feet and has balance. He’s a tough kid.”

Adrian adds a change-of-pace element along the edges that prevents teams from loading up inside.

Like most talented Staples running backs in the past, Burger and Adrian will get the benefit of running behind a talented offensive line. Jackson Ward (center), Michael Overton and Harry Garber (guards), and Nick Roehm (tackle) are four returning players with varsity experience.

“I’m confident the guys up front are going to help us out,” Burger said. “We had a great offensive line last year and we’re returning three starters, so I’m sure they’ll do a great job.”

The duo, along with new quarterback Andrew Speed, hope to rack up enough yards to be playing postseason football in December.

“It’s about trying to get over that last hump,” Adrian said. “Every year we’re so close and we’re always playing our best football at the end of the year. It’s always a terrible loss at the beginning of the year that keeps us out. We have to play our best football at the beginning of the year.”