Notice the word try.
"Nah, we did keep our mouths shut," he said, laughing. "Orders from coach Cap [Mike Capriotti]. It was a little hard to obey, because we did hear some [static]. Coach Cap kept saying, 'Go to class. Keep your mouth shut. Do your work. Be on time.' "
Then came Thursday night. The Pioneers pounded Overbrook, 43-6, in a Public AAAA Gold contest at Simon Gratz' Marcus Foster Memorial Stadium.
"I'm not surprised," Russell said. "If we play together and keep our composure, this will be the result every week."
That's TBD, of course, but the Pioneers needed to crawl before they could resume walking, and this one certainly qualified.
Russell, a 6-foot, 250-pound senior, did his part at guard and linebacker (and even at long-snapper because of another guy's injury).
"Though I've been starting on offense since 10th grade, and on defense just since last year, I like defense better," he said. "You get to hit somebody. It's all about hitting. And getting turnovers, so you can score."
With Frankford up by only 7-6 midway through the second quarter, Russell imposed his will on the proceedings.
On fourth-and-5 from his 10, Overbrook's Matthew Gregory dropped back to punt. Russell burst through the line so quickly, two protectors were needed to prevent his further advancement. That allowed Anthony Graham to power through slightly to Russell's right, and his tummy blocked the ball into the end zone.
Keone Berry almost (and should have, honestly) recovered the ball for a touchdown. Overbrook's Khalil Haven did so, however, and the play went onto the score sheet as a safety. On the next scrimmage play, Kelly Johnson raced 47 yards, with help from a good downfield block by wideout Savoy Martin, and Frankford owned a 17-6 edge.
The Pioneers added another score only 28.8 seconds before intermission on Martin's 56-yard snag from Michael McGroarty.
Of the blocked-punt play, Russell said: "We looked at film all week, and how their guys were slow getting out of their stances. Since they were deep in their own territory, we all decided to go in there and block it.
"I saw [Graham] to my side, then I saw the ball going into the end zone. I knew it would be a safety or touchdown."
Frankford rang up 397 yards of offense behind center Lydell Weeks, guards Russell and Geoffrey Phillippe, tackles Corey Young and Dajuan Franks, and ends Aaron Allison and Quinyon Speller. Jeffione Thomas (eight carries, 100 yards, one TD), Johnson (5-62, two), Marc Price (10-60, one) and sub Tommy Cuthbert (4-30, one) combined for five rushing TDs. McGroarty finished 5-for-9 for 129 yards with the six-pointer to Martin. Martin, Phillippe and Price posted picks.
For 'Brook, which missed franchise back David McCants (ankle injury), Kairi Shoatz ran for a score, and Siahnimah Kofa had an 85-yard TD kickoff return starting the third quarter, which was erased by a meant-nothing block-in-the-back penalty at Frankford's 10.
Capriotti thinks Russell, a Frankford resident since eighth grade (West Oak Lane beforehand) who envisions a career in athletic training or architecture, will play linebacker in college because of his size, speed and ability.
"But he's versatile on offense, too, and we can use him anywhere on the line," he added.
Meanwhile, Capriotti could use the $10 he lent Russell the other day.
"He forgot the shirt for his school uniform," Capriotti said, within earshot of Russell. "I gave him $10 to get another one."
While starting a jog toward the team bus, Russell hollered pleasantly back toward Capriotti, "I got ya, coach. You'll get it."
Maybe more victories, too. *