View from the desk, Week 1

Friday night, our intrepid beatwriter Matt Smith delivered the highlights of what he saw from the sidelines on the opening week of the season.

Some of us are less fortunate yet more fortunate than he. More, in the sense that while working on the sportsdesk on a football Friday, we have to sift through accounts of all the games with enough detail to tease out the highlights enough to write headlines and references from other pages. Less because, well, have you ever seen a newspaper office?

Anyway, while I can’t offer the insight Matt gleans with his two eyes, I can provide an in-depth look at the outstanding and unusual numbers presented from all the games. So here are some of the highlights:

1 – Career wins for new coaches Todd Fairlie (Episcopal Academy), Joe Powel (Archbishop Carroll) and Tom Kline (Springfield) at their new schools.

-13 – Net rushing yards by Ridley in their come-from-behind win over Malvern Prep. That total includes 11 from starting running back Jalen Randolph on nine carries. Continue reading

Top 5: Returning Running Backs

You’ll see right away there are more than five running backs listed. I included a couple tandems for fun. Enjoy.

Damiere Shaw & Jay Watkins, Cardinal O’Hara: Shaw isn’t a prototypical halfback, but the Temple-bound senior is one of the top athletes in the state and could crack the 1,000-yard barrier this season. I think the same could easily be said for his partner-in-crime, Watkins. Shaw and Watkins are awfully similar in size and ability, as both players can make an impact out of the backfield, in the slot or out wide Together, they should make O’Hara very dangerous.

Jalen Randolph, Ridley: Randolph is making another appearance on our “Top 5” lists. The bruising back was the thunder to Shahaid Smith’s lightning the last couple years, but now he’ll most likely receive the bulk of the workload for coach Dennis Decker. Randolph, who rushed close to 600 yards with nine touchdowns as a junior, will be called upon early and often for the Raiders. Honestly, I feel sorry for certain linebackers and defensive backs that are tasked with trying to stop him.

Kyle Keyser & Justin Pyle, Garnet Valley: Affectionately dubbed “Kyle Pyle” by,  the seniors have the Jaguars ready to go. They accounted for 10 rushing scores despite battling injuries in 2010. They’re both home-run hitters and will surely be two of first-year starting QB Ryan Corkery’s favorite targets to throw to.

Strath Haven is counting on big production from James Griffin. Photo courtesy

James Griffin, Strath Haven: The 5-11, 165-pound senior did it all for the Panthers last year in their run to another district title. He thrived at quarterback when called upon midway through the playoffs, mostly running sweeps and plays condusive to his playmaking ability as a RB. Haven has a mulit-dimensional talent at their disposal in Griffin, who rushed for 734 yards (8.0 ypg) as a junior.

Ismir Gibson, Msgr. Bonner: Shifty and slippery smooth, Gibson can hit the hole and take off with the best of them. The diminutive Friars senior found the end zone on seven occasions last year. He didn’t have a tremendously impressive yards-per-carry average (5.5), but with a strong o-line in front of him, I expect some big plays … provided he can stay healthy, which was/is an issue during camp.

Angry that I’m missing someone? Sorry … but please, let me know about it!