``I felt,'' Weeks said, ``like I let the team down.''
Marquis Weeks, The Inquirer's Chester County football player of the year, rarely let his team down during a career that ended on Thanksgiving Day with a 238-yard rushing effort in a 13-7 win over Marple Newtown.
The 6-foot, 190-pound senior finished with a school-record 6,198 career rushing yards. He set a school single-season rushing mark this year with 2,305 yards on 293 carries.
The Virginia-bound senior also found time to play a little defense this season. He intercepted four passes, returning two for touchdowns, and notched four sacks. Opposing offenses steered away from him with the same sense of purpose opposing defenses used to try to stop him.
Weeks cried after the Haverford game. Opposing coaches agonized weekly while preparing for Weeks and the Pioneers.
``You're scared to death of him,'' Haverford High coach Joe Gallagher said. ``Any time he touches the ball, he can be gone.''
Weeks was a seldom-used freshman in 1996. Senior Kamari Stroman rushed for nearly 2,000 yards that year and the Pioneers tied Ridley and Strath Haven for the Central League title.
``I'll remember that year the most,'' Weeks said. ``Even though I didn't have many yards, we won a championship.''
The yards started coming in 1997. Weeks, an unknown commodity except to the players and coaches who watched him every day in practice, rushed for more than 2,000 yards that season.
It got harder in 1998.
Opposing teams put eight or nine players in the box to stop Weeks, who managed to finish with 1,500 yards. Those same eight or nine players remained in the box in 1999, but a stronger, more experienced Weeks found ways to get past them.
``This was his best year,'' said Matt Gibson, Conestoga's head coach this season and Weeks' position coach in 1996 and 1997. ``He became an all-around player. His blocking improved. His hands improved, even though we didn't throw to him too much. He got stronger. He put on weight.''
The first thing that strikes you about Weeks is his speed. He runs a 4.34-second 40-yard dash. He spends his summers running AAU track with his best friend, Cardinal O'Hara star running back Kevin Jones.
The next thing that makes an impression is his patience. He waits for his blocks. He doesn't shift into fifth gear until it is absolutely necessary. Then, when a linebacker thinks he has the Pioneer in his sights, Weeks turns on the speed and motors into the end zone.
``He's an offensive lineman's dream,'' Gallagher said. ``If you're willing to hustle, he'll make you look good. You don't have to make devastating blocks. You just have to stay on people.''
Weeks sifted through 13 full scholarship offers before picking Virginia, where he will play with former Downingtown stars Dan Ellis and Arlen Harris.
Some schools, including Penn State, Michigan State, Wake Forest and Northwestern, recruited him as a defensive back. But Weeks was born to run.
``It's exhilarating,'' Weeks said. ``You get a rush, especially when you know you're going to score.''
Weeks scored a school-record 76 touchdowns during his Conestoga career. Seventy-one of those scores came on runs, another school record.
Still, for Weeks, it often wasn't enough. He wasn't satisfied with the Pioneers' 6-6 record in 1997 or 5-6 mark in 1998. A 7-5 finish this year wasn't the way Weeks envisioned ending his high school career.
Then there was the fumble in the loss to Haverford.
Weeks cried. You get the feeling opposing Central League coaches won't shed too many tears when he graduates.