Boyer is strong on vision, pursuing county records

Running back Ben Boyer needs 727 yards to become Camden County's all-time leader. The Gloucester senior starts this season with 3,596 career rushing yards.
Running back Ben Boyer needs 727 yards to become Camden County's all-time leader. The Gloucester senior starts this season with 3,596 career rushing yards. (APRIL SAUL / Staff)
Posted: September 06, 2013

Sometimes, Ben Boyer's coach will watch him run with the football and figure he's going the wrong way.

Until he goes the other way.

"He's so instinctive," Gloucester coach Ed Malone said of Boyer, a senior running back for the Lions. "He'll make a cut and you'll be like, 'He shouldn't be going there.' Then he'll make another cut and find his way into the clear.

"It's great vision. It's something you can't coach."

At just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Boyer hardly looks like one of the most durable, dependable, and productive running backs in South Jersey history.

But the soft-spoken athlete known to his coaches and friends as "Benny" is on the verge of passing some of the area's most acclaimed ballcarriers on his way to top spots in the record book.

When Gloucester hosts Pitman on Sept. 12 in a Tri-County Classic Division opener, Boyer will begin his senior season with 3,596 career rushing yards and 43 touchdowns.

He needs 404 yards to become just the fourth running back in Camden County history with 4,000 career yards. And he needs just 727 yards to become the county's all-time leader, passing former Bishop Eustace star Mike DiMaggio's mark of 4,322.

The other 4,000-yard rushers from Camden County were two future NFL players: Winslow Township's Shonn Greene, who ran for 4,266 in a scholastic career that ended in 2003, and Paul VI's Jon Grimes, who ran for 4,269 in a career that ended in 2007.

With 20 touchdowns this season - no small feat, but something within his reach provided he stays healthy - Boyer would pass Grimes and legendary former Eastern star Adam Taliaferro for tops on Camden County's all-time list in that category.

"It's an honor just to be mentioned with those guys," Boyer said. "I never thought I would be considered in a group like those people."

Boyer is quick to credit his teammates for his success.

"I'm lucky because of the kids I have around me," Boyer said. "They are all tough kids. We push each other. We push each other to work hard and get better and better."

This is a season of transition for Gloucester, since Malone has taken over for former coach Leon Harris, whose teams won 180 games in 27 seasons at his alma mater.

Malone, a Gloucester graduate who spent 10 years as an assistant under Harris, will look to Boyer and seniors such as Mike Cox, Andrew Boulden, Allen Westenberger, and Jason Mull to provide leadership for a team capable of successfully defending its Classic Division title and qualifying for the South Jersey Group 1 tournament.

Boyer isn't a "rah-rah" kind of guy. But he's the most accomplished of the Lions, and his example goes a long way toward setting the standard for work ethic and commitment in the program.

"He's the guy who rallies the guys at important times," Malone said. "He wants the ball. He wants to carry the load when we need him to."

Boyer's ability to step up to the moment was clear late last season, when Gloucester beat Pennsville, 48-42, to clinch the Classic Division title, improve the Lions' record to 7-1, and clinch the No. 4 seed in the Group 1 tournament.

In a wild game in front of a large crowd in Pennsville, Boyer carried the ball 41 times for 387 yards - the sixth-highest rushing total in South Jersey history - and five touchdowns. He scored the winning TD on a 17-yard run with 1 minute, 51 seconds remaining.

"I don't think he was even tired," Malone said.

Boyer said he was proud to produce such a performance on such a "big stage," but insisted his offensive line was the key to that victory.

"There were a lot of times when I wasn't even touched," Boyer said.

Given his height, Boyer hasn't drawn recruiting interest from major colleges. Malone believes Boyer could land at a program at the Division I FCS level, or perhaps Division II or III.

Boyer, who hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy, said he would like to play college football. He also is a top linebacker who has been the team's "best defensive player" for the last two years, according to Malone, so his future could be on that side of the ball.

But he's on the brink of setting records as a ballcarrier, running to places that no one ever expected him to go, along routes that only he sees.

"I know I've worked hard, but I'm kind of surprised at what I've been able to do," Boyer said. "I never knew I would go this far."


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.inquirer.com/

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