Wood linebacker Guckin also flourishing at halfback

Posted: November 01, 2012

YOU COULD SAY Andrew Guckin has come out of nowhere to emerge as the top rusher for Archbishop Wood High's ever-impressive football team.

You could also say he jumped up from a hospital bed and, well, that wouldn't be the worst-ever example of truth-stretching.

The 5-11, 200-pound Guckin, a senior halfback, last Friday night sliced and diced the Vikings' school record for one-game rushing yards by churning for 345 in a 56-35, looked-like-a-track-meet victory over host Bonner-Prendergast. The previous mark, 281, dated back to 2006 and had been established by Pat Devlin, who up until that very game, vs. Conwell-Egan, had exclusively lined up at wideout.

Guckin's season yardage total now stands at 930, in seven games, and he'd be way over 1,000 if not for the medical scare that occurred a week before the opener, vs. Bensalem, and kept him sidelined until Week Three.

Are you savvy enough to know the location of your appendix? Guckin knows where his used to be.

"It was pretty much a one-night thing," Guckin said. "I was throwing up all night and the next day I couldn't move. My mom [Jane] went online to look things up and she told me, 'This could be appendicitis. All the symptoms match.'

"It was frustrating. You go from thinking at night, 'Ah, I'm just a little sick,' to your mom taking you to the emergency room the next day. I'm sitting there, hoping I don't have anything really wrong, and then the doctor comes in and says, 'You're going to need surgery.' You can't help but think, 'Am I going to be out all season?' Pretty scary."

When Guckin missed his first practice, coach Steve Devlin could have been knocked over with a feather.

"This is a kid," Devlin said, "who has never missed a day of school. I knew it had to be something serious."

About the school thing . . . Has or had?

"I still have perfect attendance through Wood," Guckin said, smiling. "At least the timing was OK. I was able to make it in for the first day. That was important to me."

In his first two varsity seasons, Guckin started at linebacker (he still does) and was even calling the signals last fall as Wood stormed to the Class AAA state championship.

His early football days had mostly featured ballcarrying exploits, but he had to wait his turn due to the arrival by transfer of the Peoples cousins, Brandon and Desmon. Even this year, with the cousins off to college, his offensive status was unclear because of the presence of LaQuille "Dice" Nesbitt, formerly of Northeast.

Guckin rushed just two times in all of 2011, and that was in the opener.

In training camp, he and Nesbitt, who later experienced some fumbling woes and is now sidelined by injury, were flip-flopping between halfback and fullback.

"I was really looking forward to contributing on offense," Guckin said. "Now it's great to be the halfback."

Said Devlin: "If you'd asked me before the season to predict where Andrew would play in college, I definitely would have said defense. Now I'm not so sure. He really makes things happen at running back. He's effective in the open field. Puts moves on people. He's hard to tackle."

To boot, Guckin boasts a 4.0 GPA, so schools in the Ivy and Patriot leagues are stalking him. His favorites are Penn and Lafayette.

"The offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator from Penn are calling me," Devlin said, laughing, "so I don't know what position he'll wind up playing."

Against Bonner-Prendergast, Guckin got things rolling with a 77-yard touchdown. His other scores covered 30, 33, 2, 20 and 47 yards, and the six rushing TDs yielded a tie for the Catholic League record.

The linemen were center Fran Walsh, guards Diego Racanco, Chris O'Connor and Deion Oliver (rotated in), tackles George Griffin and Ryan Bates, and tight end Nick Arcidiacono, a Rutgers commit.

Wood, which will meet Cardinal O'Hara Saturday, 3 p.m., at Harry S Truman in a AAA semi, was still not in session Wednesday, due to Sandy-caused lack of electricity. But here's hoping the grunts press Guckin to at least buy 'em a candy bar when school (assumedly) reopens Thursday (assuming schools still allow candy bars).

"Those guys did a great job," Guckin said. "I was thanking them all. The holes were great. They were awesome the whole game.

"I wasn't really paying attention to the yards. I mean, due to the long run, I knew I was up there, but . . . After the last touchdown someone came over and said, 'That puts you over 300.' I had no idea it was that many."

Guckin, who lives in Holland, Bucks County, is the nephew of Vince Guckin, a first-team All-City linebacker for Father Judge in '79. (Tidbit time: The outgoing Vince and shy-guy teammate Tom Carboni were featured together in a story. In the accompanying pic, shot by Wayne Faircloth at a practice, Vince sat atop the goalpost's crossbar as the amused Tom looked up at him.) While he's unsure about a career path, he does know he's pumped about trying to return to Hershey.

"We're all focused," he said. "We set goals: win the Catholic League regular season, take the playoffs, win District 12, get to the state championship. We're taking it step by step."

Last Saturday, Andrew Guckin took it many yards by many yards.

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