Bok's Pelzer gobbles up yards

Bok's Larry Pelzer draws crowd of West Philadelphia defenders.
Bok's Larry Pelzer draws crowd of West Philadelphia defenders. (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: September 14, 2012

THOSE FOLKS who want to experience shocking moments should ask Larry Pelzer to categorize his running style.

He'll say, "I feel like I'm a power back."

Power back?!

A glance at Edward Bok Tech's football roster reveals that Pelzer is listed at 155 pounds. Hmm. Looks like a slight exaggeration. What does he really weigh?

"I'm 129," he'll shoot back.

One hundred and 29 pounds? Power back?!

"Hey, if you run hard and low, it doesn't matter how much you weigh," Pelzer said. "I learned that going back to my days playing [youth football]. Hard and low. Hard and low. You do it right, you'll be fine. You'll always get positive yardage."

On Thursday, Bok visited West Philadelphia for a Public AAA contest and the 5-8 Pelzer, a senior halfback, kept poundin' away. End result: He posted 168 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries as the Wildcats triumphed, 28-6.

Pelzer showed he meant business from the very beginning, churning for 10, 10 and 17 yards on the game's first three plays. He was still playing for keeps down the stretch, too, witness that he broke tackles at three different locales en route to the Wildcats' third TD, a 10-yarder.

That series covered 52 yards on six plays, and Pelzer provided momentum with a 28-yard kickoff return. West had just created a stir with a 48-yard TD pass from freshman Tybir Williams to Kyre Coppage. Williams was filling in for Ricardo Streams, who'd dislocated his left (non-throwing) elbow in the second quarter while being sacked by Marquez Walker.

In the 2011 season, Pelzer served as a backup to franchise rusher Shaquil Sammons. And then, through the offseason, his mindset never varied.

"I came in with the attitude, 'This job's supposed to be mine, so I'm going to take it,' " Pelzer said. "I had to stay focused. Not only me would benefit from doing a good job as our big runner. The team would, too.

"I take pride in doing these things. Look at me. I'm so small. Most [productive] running back weigh like 280 pounds and up . . . Um, I mean 180 and up. They've all got meat on their bones. Me? No meat."

He continued.

"I try to gain weight. All I do is eat. I guess because I play football and [stay active, in general], it goes right through me. I can't gain nothin'."

Well, except for yards.

As it has done for seemingly forever, Bok favored the left side on its rushing plays. That meant Pelzer usually followed guard Leonard Hart and tackle Marcus Owens. Sometimes, especially close to West's end zone, coach Frank "Roscoe" Natale flip-flopped guard Mark "Spider" Webb to the left side to create an unbalanced line.

"Those guys all work hard," Pelzer said. "Marcus, he's my favorite, though. We go back to the ninth grade. Have been in all the same classes. He was my main blocker on the JV, too. Always doing his job, no matter what."

Quarterback Michael Riley, on a simple sneak that he broke to the outside for an 8-yarder, and Pelzer (2-yarder) tallied the first two TDs. Streams suffered his injury in between and some spectators gasped as he walked toward the sideline.

As one put it, "He looked like he had a tennis ball in his elbow."

West's coaches felt Bok's players were guilty of dirty play along the way. That feeling was mutual.

(The coaches are great friends. West coach Paul Noon got married in Scranton last Saturday and Bok assistant Kyle Benzio was his best man; they'd coached the JV together at Bok. Natale and Tom DeFelice, Natale's predecessor, also made the trip upstate.)

"When I was blocking for our last touchdown [Antoine Whitney's 1-yarder with 31 seconds left], some boy threw dirt in my eye," Pelzer said. "That was a tough, competitive game. You just have to endure. When anger kicks in, you can't let it get to you."

Pelzer, who lives on Wolf Street near 27th, in South Philly, is a second generation Wildcat. His dad, also named Larry, a butterball center, was good enough to play in the City All-Star Game.

"Bok stuff, that's all my dad talks about," young Larry said, laughing. "It looked like I was gonna go to Southern, but my dad talked to Mr. DeFelice and helped me get into Bok. I'm glad he did.

"He usually comes to the games, but he didn't know this one was gonna be played on Thursday. I didn't realize it, either, so I didn't even text him."

Though West wound up with 157 yards, 10 of its plays lost yardage and four turnovers were committed. Whitney and Demetrius Robinson notched interceptions while Dimonte Powell and Terrell Miles logged fumble recoveries. Linebacker Davon "Megatron" Key was outstanding for West (13 stops) while sidekick Lamar Pleasant made two TFLs.

Larry Pelzer's major at Bok is carpentry.

"This summer," he said, "I worked with my grandpop and did some planing. But mostly it was paint this, paint that.

"Down the line, he's saying I could be an operations engineer."

A position of power. Perfect.


Contact Ted Silary at silaryt@phillynews.com

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