JT, Edwards run over Devils
bob ford/times news Jim Thorpe running back Shane Edwards (27) takes the handoff from quarterback Sean Green (13) and runs behind a block thrown by Ryan Gregoire (60).
Shane Edwards knew early in the week that he was going to be busy.
The Jim Thorpe running back showed Shenandoah Valley early in the game that he was also going to be productive.
Edwards carried the ball 37 times for 225 yards and three touchdowns, including a 65-yard scoring run on the game's first possession, as the Olympians powered their way to a 24-6 Anthracite Football League win over Shenandoah.
With starting quarterback Terry Moll and big-play receiver P.J. Johnson both sidelined with injuries, Edwards was told in practice on Tuesday that he was going to be a workhorse.
"I said to Shane early in the week, 'can you give me 40 carries on Friday night' and he almost got that," laughed Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger. "Shane had an outstanding game. He ran hard and he showed great instincts. Shenandoah knew he was going to get the ball and he was still able to pick up big yardage."
Edwards said he enjoyed having the ball put in his hands.
"Coach told me to expect a lot of carries, which was fine with me," said Edwards. "We had two great players out, so I knew It was important that I played well.
"But it was easy to do with the way our line blocked. I had huge holes to run through all night."
What Edwards didn't have was the greatest surface for a running back. But playing on a muddy and extremely giving field didn't slow him down.
"I consider myself both a speed back and a power back," said Edwards. "I'm confident running outside or powering up the middle. With the field conditions tonight, we kept it between the tackles a lot so I just followed my blockers, ran straight ahead, and tried to avoid having to make too many cuts."
Edwards did that to perfection.
But before he settled in for some power running and before the field got too bad he flashed a little bit of the speed he talked about.
On a third-and-six play on Thorpe's first possession, Edwards took a pitch, got a couple of huge seal blocks at the line of scrimmage, and raced 65 yards for a score.
"That was just a great job of game-planning by coach [Anthony] Russo and our other assistants," said Rosenberger. "They noticed on film that Shenandoah did a lot of middle blitzing in 3rd-and-six and 3rd-and-seven type of situations.
"So we called a toss the first time we had that situation, Shenandoah blitzed, and once Shane got the corner turned there was no one there."
The Olympians made it 12-0 on a 54-yard pass from reserve quarterback Sean Green to Ben Moore. A one-yard TD run by Edwards early in the second quarter made it 18-0.
Facing the big, early-deficit, Shenandoah turned to its passing game, but Thorpe's defense was up the challenge.
Olympian defensive backs intercepted four Chris Palubinsky passes in the game one each by Ryan Boileau, Green, Jon Fritz and Josh Dean and held the Blue Devils to just 11 completions in 32 attempts.
"Our secondary did a great job," said Rosenberger. "The kids were in great position, got good breaks on the ball, and then held on and made some interceptions. Their quarterback has had some big games this year so we knew we would be tested back there and our kids really stepped up."