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EasternPAFootball.com - Your source for High School Football in Eastern PAEasternPAFootball.com - Your source for High School Football in Eastern PA

East running backs could steal the spotlight in Altoona

Written by: on Monday, June 15th, 2009

If there’s a recent trend that one can discern from the last couple PSFCA East/West All-Star games, it’s that the team with the better rushing attack has won the game.  And I’ll admit it:  I am a huge proponent of utilizing a quality ground attack in an all-star game despite the minimum passing requirements and spread-out, gun-for-90-points spread offenses of the present day.

The rushing offense in these types of games gets grossly overlooked.

So if you need me to lay out the proof that the East/West game was decided by the ground game for the last two years, here it is:

2007:  The West, led by a bruising effort from Hollidaysburg fullback Matt Wimbush, systematically and methodically chewed up 192 rushing yards in a 24-14 victory.

2008:  In an affair where the lightning played more of a role than anything else, Marvase Byrd ran for over 130 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown in a 10-0 win for the West.  Byrd’s performance was literally the difference of the game.

Enter 2009, and instead of the West team having a powerful running combination (or trio), that title now shifts over to the East squad.

Jeremiah Young (Steelton-Highspire), Zach Barket (Schuylkill Haven) and Franklin Quiteh (Pocono Mountain West) headline an East team looking to win its first game in the series since a 20-14 triumph in 2006 keyed by Mike Callahan (Hempfield) and Graham Zug (Manheim Central).

The West’s running backs are good, not to be mistaken.  Brandon Real (West York Area) was literally the “Real deal” (sorry for the pun), Nico Price (McKeesport Area) battered the WPIAL in George Smith’s patented flash-and-dash flexbone offense, and Patrick Matty (Hopewell) battered the Parkway Conference when freshman phenom Rushel Shell wasn’t blowing past or bowling over people.

But Young, Barket, and Quiteh could quite possibly steal the show once things get going after a 6 p.m. kickoff.

Everybody knows about Young’s exploits.  He’s the only running back in state history to surpass 9,000 career rushing yards.  He ran for 2,806 yards last season, the third straight year he’s eclipsed the 2,000-yard plateau.  In the last three seasons, he scored close to 100 rushing touchdowns.

Likewise for Barket.  He kept lighting up the stat sheets week in and week out, running for nearly 4,200 yards and scoring 65 rushing touchdowns.  He broke Austin Scott’s state records of single-season rushing yardage and individual points scored.  He finished his career with over 8,300 rushing yards.

Quiteh playing for Pocono Mountain West, played in a region that didn’t get quite the same coverage as Steel-High or Schuylkill Haven.  He had three consecutive weeks of 200 rushing yards or more, earned a berth on the Associated Press “AAAA” All-State team, and, when the dust settled, finished with 2,290 yards, just slightly less than Wallenpaupack All-stater Joe Defebo (2,321).

So come Friday night, when the lights go up at Mansion Park Stadium (oh wait, this is June, and the game might be over before 9:00), keep a close eye on the East backfield. 

If recent trends follow suit, it’ll be the team in green and white staking a sixth victory in the series.

You heard it here first.  And I’d hate to be the one that said, “I told you so.”

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