Seneca Valley defensive lineman Damian Hall admits that his team's defense is much better in practices than in games--though it was hard to tell in the top-ranked Screaming Eagles' 43-8 victory over visiting Einstein in a Montgomery County 3A game last night.
Seneca Valley has won an area-long 29 consecutive games, dating from the start of the 1997 season.
In practice, Seneca Valley's defense has Chris Kelley at linebacker, from where he led the team in tackles as a sophomore two seasons ago. Last season, Kelley played linebacker and quarterback, but has not played at linebacker this year even though he spends about half of every practice at that position.
"We know he is there if we need him," Hall said. "Chris is just an amazing athlete, and when he is on defense he really gives us another dimension. But I think we are doing all right without him."
Last night's numbers support Hall's statement. The Screaming Eagles (3-0) held Einstein (1-2) to 140 yards of total offense and five first downs. They sacked quarterback Mujuid Ferguson four times, including two by Hall, and held running back Umar Ferguson to 31 yards on nine carries. Ferguson had rushed for 2,025 yards as a sophomore before missing last season with a knee injury.
"I had a lot of frustration because I cannot play defense, so I was looking for someone to hit all night," said Kelley, an All-Met at linebacker last season. "The coaches told me all week that they would use me on defense, but I guess they did not need me after all."
Einstein scored the first touchdown given up by Seneca Valley this season--on a 53-yard run by running back Al Glay late in the third quarter. Despite the score, Screaming Eagles Coach Terry Changuris said he was pleased.
"Our front five is not big, but they are very quick," Changuris said. "Opposing quarterbacks will not have much time to set up and throw the ball downfield. We know Chris is a great linebacker and he wants to play there. We will use him if we need to, but right now there is no need."
Instead, Kelley made his presence felt on offense. He rushed nine times for 166 yards and four touchdowns, and completed 5 of 7 passes for 110 yards. In the past two games, Kelley has rushed 13 times for 322 yards and six touchdowns.
His most memorable run last night came late in the first quarter. He lined up in a shotgun formation, fumbled the snap from center, then picked it up and raced for a 38-yard score. Later, he had a 63-yard touchdown run in which he broke four tackles, then ran over a safety at the goal line with 25 seconds left in the first half.