Zaire Franklin leads La Salle over Ryan

Ryan's Connor Golden makes the catch despite the efforts of La Salle's Stephen Hudak. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff
Ryan's Connor Golden makes the catch despite the efforts of La Salle's Stephen Hudak. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff
Posted: September 30, 2013

Four yellow school buses idled in Washington High's parking lot Saturday afternoon and waited for one more rider to board.

The last rider, walking back from the dusty football field, said he was the one who determined what was "the party bus."

La Salle's Zaire Franklin led the Explorers past Archbishop Ryan, 28-14, and the half-hour ride back to Wyndmoor, he said, was a chance to "let loose and have some fun."

They worked hard, Franklin said, and the Explorers wanted to enjoy their impressive Catholic League AAAA opener.

"At least until Monday," said Franklin, who is orally committed to Syracuse.

A few minutes earlier, the linebacker was surrounded by his teammates as they huddled close and waited for his cue.

"It's party time," he shouted, as he does after each win, and his teammates began to jump wildly around him.

He is the team's unquestioned leader and helped the defense buckle down twice in the first half to hold the Raiders scoreless inside the red zone.

In the huddle, Franklin said, he just tries to keep his defense focused. He knew how important those stops would be.

On offense, Franklin moved from tight end to left tackle and made room for running backs Jordan Meachum and Nick Rinella to score on short gains, and, most important, he added extra protection for quarterback Kyle Shurmur.

Shurmur threw for a pair of touchdowns, both to top target Jimmy Herron. The 6-foot-1 junior receiver hauled in a 23-yard score near the end of the half and waited for Shurmur, who greeted him with a leaping chest bump.

The pair have worked tirelessly together since Shurmur moved from Ohio after his father, Pat, was hired as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. Herron said Shurmur is the "most knowledgeable player" he's ever played with.

They watch game film on Shurmur's smartphone during their 8 a.m. homeroom, talk football on their way to English class, and practice each night until 6:30.

"All we talk about is football," Shurmur said. "It's, 'Hey, what's up?' and then it's football."

La Salle 14 7 7 0 - 28

Archbishop Ryan 0 0 7 7 - 14

LS: Jordan Meachum 4 run (Matt Raczak kick)

LS: Nick Rinella 1 run (Raczak kick)

LS: Jimmy Herron 23 pass from Kyle Shurmur (Raczak kick)

AR: Connor Golden 44 pass from Mark Ostaszewski (Joe Stock kick)

LS: Herron 25 pass from Shurmur (Raczak kick)

AR: Golden 25 pass from Matt Romano (Stock kick)


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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