Finally, a good start to a Truman season

Posted: September 02, 2012

Losers Find Excuses. . . . Winners Find a Way to Win.

Harry S Truman players, fresh off a come-from behind victory over Abraham Lincoln, took off their shoulder pads and then their jerseys to reveal that mantra, printed in black letters on the backs of sweat-soaked, white T-shirts.

On Friday, overcoming the 90-degree heat and a sloppy first half, which included a missed red-zone opportunity, the visiting Tigers knocked off the Railsplitters, 13-7. It was the program's first opening-day win since 2001.

Ed Cubbage's squad won without two of its best players: junior running back Melvin Todd and senior two-way lineman Shawn Seiberlich.

Todd, an 800-yard rusher last season and a possible Division I-A recruit, was absent, Cubbage said, because of "a variety of off-the-field issues." Seiberlich was held out after suffering a minor concussion earlier in the week.

"We have other people who can step up and get the job done," said senior Shareef Clinton, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive guard and defensive tackle. "We showed that today."

Lincoln, thanks to Durrell Dixon's interception and 29-yard return in the first quarter, led, 7-0, at intermission.

"We just regrouped in the second half," said Truman senior Mike Olsen, an offensive tackle and inside linebacker. "We really got it together, started doing the things we were taught all summer long."

Repeatedly turning to junior halfbacks Manny Fisher and Jordan Livingston, the Tigers, who went 1-11 in 2011, managed a pair of third-quarter touchdowns.

Fisher, who finished with 129 yards on 14 carries, found paydirt on runs of 5 and 2 yards. Livingston rushed 22 times for 109 yards.

"At halftime, as angry as I was walking into the locker room, there was no yelling and screaming," Cubbage said. "We went over what we weren't doing and made corrections. Also, by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, I think our conditioning showed."

Truman's only win last year came on Thanksgiving Day. With the 6-foot, 175-pound Todd exploding for 301 yards in the first half - yes, the first half - and scoring six times, the Tigers romped past Bucks County neighbor Conwell-Egan, 49-14.

Cubbage said Todd, who drew early recruiting interest from the likes of Temple and Syracuse, has been clocked at "between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds" in the 40-yard dash. Todd also plays cornerback, returns kicks, and punts.

"I don't want to say we can do without [Todd]," the 5-8, 186-pound Olsen said, "but we do with what we have."

The Tigers defense, spearheaded by linebackers Trysten Hunt and Brandon Hill, held the penalty-prone Railsplitters to 20 yards (14 rushing, 6 passing) in the second half.

The offensive line was composed of center Isaac Flowers, guards Clinton and Ryan Navalsky, and tackles Olsen and Omar Smith.

Truman, which has about 65 players this year, is stuck playing in the Suburban One League, which includes traditional powers Neshaminy and Pennsbury.

"We want to get better each week," Cubbage said. "If we keep preparing the right way, the wins and losses will take care of themselves."

Long journey. When Father Judge returns from Ireland, where it fell to Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.) by 20-6 on Friday, the Crusaders won't have much time to prepare for Friday night's game at Council Rock South.

Cardinal O'Hara coach Danny Algeo recalled the struggles that his 2006 Lions had after a 28-0, Week 3 loss to Colerain (Ohio) in the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge in Cincinnati.

"Honest to God, we just never recovered from that that," he said.

O'Hara, which began that season as The Inquirer's No. 5-ranked team in Southeastern Pennsylvania, dropped six of its next eight games and finished 3-8.

Appeal. Bonner-Prendergast's appeal to the PIAA on behalf of Sonkarly Winpea, who transferred in from Upper Darby, is scheduled for Sept. 11.

Bonner-Prendergast lost a regional-panel hearing in its attempt to have the 5-9, 180-pound senior, a speedy two-way back, cleared to play football at the school.

Quotable I. Coatesville coach Matt Ortega on Red Raiders junior linebacker Tyler Burke, who is being recruited by Maryland and North Carolina State: "He's physical, athletic, can run sideline to sideline. He's the whole package."

Quotable II. St. Joseph's Prep boss Gabe Infante, before his Hawks beat Cocoa (Fla.), 16-7, Friday night at Disney World: "It's just part of the process. We're looking to play the best teams out there."


Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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