September 17, 2004

Veteran Backs Boost Red

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Most any coach at any level of football will tell you that the key to winning is ball control, and that the key to ball control is running the football. New head coach Jim Knowles “87 is very confident that the Red can run the football quite effectively this season.

‘I’ve got to believe we have one of the best groups in the league,’ said Knowles.

The trio of junior Josh Johnston, senior Marcus Blanks, and junior Andre Hardaway are not only experience veterans, but also were the three leading rushers for the Red last season, respectively. The three backs combined for 81 yards on just six carries in the team’s first action of the season in a scrimmage against Ithaca College.

Though each back was very effective, all three are quite different when it comes to their running styles.

‘We have a bruiser in Hardaway and some shake with Blanks, and we have some linear speed with Johnston,’ said offensive coordinator Tim Rogers after the scrimmage. ‘We don’t have enough football to go around, but they are all very talented.’

Johnston, a native of Centerport, N.Y., rushed for 446 yards last season with four touchdowns in eight games. Johnston’s best performance of the year came against Colgate when he racked up 109 yards on the ground and a score. Johnston also picked up 76 yards receiving on eight receptions out of the backfield.

Blanks, who earned All-Ivy honors his sophomore year, saw his carries decrease slightly with the emergence of Johnston. Last season, he ran for 301 yards on 91 carries in 10 games, down from 568 yards on 129 carries from his sophomore season.

Hardaway made his contributions felt in many different ways last season, as he was second on the team with 858 all-purpose yards last season. Most of those yards came on kick returns, as he fielded 29 kicks for 588 yards.

Coming in on many third-down situations, Hardaway came in on passing downs, and capitalized on that by making 18 catches — good for fourth most on the team — for 134 yards.

Running the ball, he tallied 136 yards on the season, with 56 of them coming against Georgetown when he scored his lone touchdown of the season.

The only other back that carried the ball last season for the Red was junior fullback Eduardo Garcia. Garcia is complimented at the fullback spot by sophomore Todd Rusinkovich and newcomer Dan Wasser.

The inexperienced group of tailbacks on the squad includes sophomore Anthony Macaluso, and freshmen Chi Chi Madu and Luke Siwula. Madu had a solid performance in the Ithaca College scrimmage, as he tallied two touchdowns, including a 59-yard reception.

Because all of the running backs had such a solid preseason, there is much optimism around the locker room that this unit can take over some ball games.

‘They’ve all proved that they can perform,’ said senior right tackle Kevin Boothe. ‘We think that running the ball is the way we are going to score a lot of our points this season.’

Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Assistant Sports Editor