Pennridge's Class aiming for milestone

Mike Class needs 19 yards to reach 5,000.
Mike Class needs 19 yards to reach 5,000. (RON TARVER / Staff)
Posted: October 25, 2013

Mike Class became Pennridge's all-time leading rusher earlier this season and is on the verge of joining the 5,000-yard club.

It's a record-setting run that was nearly cut agonizingly short.

In early May, while competing in the long jump in track and field, Class suffered a ruptured disc in his lower back.

"When I went to my family doctor, I was actually told that I wouldn't be able to play football this season," the 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior captain said. "I was heartbroken. I didn't know what to do."

Class and his parents, Mike and Toni, then sought a second opinion from a specialist.

"I was told that I'd be able to play if I underwent physical therapy," Class said. "So that's what I did. And then, before the season, I was cleared to play."

Class said he went for treatment twice a week and also did pool exercises under the guidance of Dan Branch, Pennridge's strength and conditioning coach.

"Everything has been good," Class said. "My back will act up at times. Sometimes, if I've been sitting down on a hard surface for a long time, it bothers me. That's about it."

Class, who also had a bout with mononucleosis in the offseason, has looked as sharp as ever. Through eight games, the speedy and elusive tailback has carried 133 times for 1,052 yards (7.9 per carry) and 13 touchdowns.

"He has shown that there are no issues with the physical part of his game," Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said. "And he's taken plenty of hits, both on offense and defense, this year."

In 13 appearances last year, while helping the Rams go 12-2 and advance to the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA semifinals, Class rushed 293 times for an area-best 2,417 yards and 32 TDs.

His number of carries is down this season, from about 22 per game to 16. That allows him to see more time on defense, where he plays cornerback and free safety.

For his career, Class has rushed 671 times for 4,981 yards (7.4 average) and 60 TDs. Barring something unforeseen, he will eclipse the 5,000-yard mark in Friday night's Suburban One League Continental Conference matchup with Central Bucks East.

"He's a real determined runner," Hollenbach said. "And he's the ultimate team player. His work ethic is outstanding."

Class, who has been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, also has 32 receptions for 380 yards and five scores this season.

Despite his impressive talent and statistics, No. 25 has yet to receive a college scholarship offer.

"There are some days when I really think about it and get frustrated," said Class, 17. "But when it comes to recruiting, it takes time. You have to be patient. I know something will work out for me."

After showing preliminary interest, Penn State and Syracuse disappeared. Two current possibilities are Temple and Delaware. A Blue Hens assistant attended Friday's 31-20 loss at North Penn.

Class, who enjoys four-wheeling in his free time, said he plans to major in business or sports medicine.

"He's a scholarship running back in my opinion," Hollenbach said. "My hope is that he winds up at a Delaware or Villanova. That would be a great fit for him."


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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