La Salle focused on schedule, not on revenge

Posted: August 22, 2014

THE LAST TIME La Salle High entered a football season with a title other than "defending Catholic League champions" preceding its name was the start of the 2008 campaign, which sparked the first of five consecutive PCL crowns for the Explorers (Roman Catholic beat St. Joseph's Prep in 2007).

Of course, after St. Joseph's Prep unseated La Salle last season, the Explorers are once again title-less. However, revenge isn't their focus, at least not yet.

"With our schedule, that's the last thing on our minds right now," La Salle coach Drew Gordon said. "Now, in the playoffs, ask me that question again and I'll tell you a different story."

The Explorers start the season with away games against North Penn and Bergen Catholic followed by a home opener with DeMatha (Md.), a visit to Malvern and a final home game with McDonogh (Md.) before PCL play begins (add a nonleague game with Archbishop Wood).

So, with a difficult nonleague schedule and the Hawks still circling, maturity at the skill positions could become the key to La Salle's success.

Last season, the Explorers' offense was led by talented juniors Kyle Shurmur (quarterback), Jordan Meachum (running back) and Jimmy Herron (wide receiver) with sophomore Nick Rinella (running back) used as a multipurpose threat.

Shurmur, who has committed to Vanderbilt, was a Daily News second-team All-City player as a junior, his first season with La Salle after transferring from Ohio.

"The main difference from this year to last is that he's now the leader," Gordon said of Shurmur, son of Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. "He didn't have to be asked, he just kind of took it on."

Questions about some relative inexperience on the offensive and defensive lines have yet to be answered, said Gordon, but, so far, he sees progress.

Undoubtedly, the Explorers will rely heavily on the senior class that tasted disappointment last season.

"I think that's going to be a big difference," Gordon said, "the maturity factor of those vets having been there before."

Burrs' backs in bunches

When Greg White finished his career toting footballs for West Catholic last season, he had amassed 3,051 yards and 49 rushing touchdowns. Not bad for the 5-10, 185-pound back who plans to land at Towson in January pending some academic strengthening.

However, for the Burrs this season, strength on the ground figures to come via committee.

Transfer Kharee Ruley, a nimble-footed junior who rushed for 1,056 yards at Horace Furness last season, is sure to command carries. Sophomore Calil Wortham, who rushed for 380 yards as a freshman behind White, will also contribute, as will senior David Swen and two newcomers.

"They're all very good running backs," Burrs coach Brian Fluck said, "so you can . . . keep everybody fresh while they each have their own [impact]. So, between those five, we can have very good production at the tailback position."

Running behind senior offensive/defensive lineman Tymir Oliver - who has offers from Pitt, Rutgers, UMass and Temple - won't hurt.

A ground threat also will help senior quarterback Antwain McCollum, who enters this season with 2,890 passing yards, well within reach of Curtis Drake's school record of 3,287 (2008).

"He's been working on his speed and he's a lot quicker," Fluck said. "A lot more confident in his throwing, and he's a little bit more of a commander on the field now and I think he's going to have a great year this year."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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