A man showed up at West Springfield practice last Tuesday looking for senior center Jordan Trunfio, an inactive team member who is battling brain cancer. “Where’s Jordan?” the man wanted to know.
The visitor? Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who learned about Trunfio through an acquaintance with West Springfield ties. Bettis spoke with Trunfio and addressed the Spartans.
“He was talking about teamwork, stuff that coaches say all the time,” said West Springfield Coach J.T. Biddison, a Steelers fan. “But coming from Jerome Bettis, with a Super Bowl ring, there’s a lot more weight to it.”
“Had a great time with my new friend Jordan and spent some time with his football teammates!!! Go Spartans!!” Bettis tweeted after dropping by the practice. He included a picture of himself with Trunfio.
Trunfio has reported to midfield for the coin toss in each of the Spartans’ games this season. For the home game Friday against Robinson, there was a “white-out” in his honor.
The Spartans wear a No. 58 sticker on their helmets in honor of Trunfio. He was the recipient of proceeds from the 50/50 drawing Friday night.
“He’s there for us and we’re there for him,” Biddison said. “He may be more of an assistant coach than anything else. He knew all the line calls from last year.”
With a 38-14 victory Friday, West Springfield notched its fifth consecutive win over Robinson by capitalizing on five turnovers, one of them a scoop-and-score by junior Joe McDonnell, who also had an interception and fumble recovery.
Senior quarterback Tyler Sutter carried 15 times for 132 yards and a touchdown and threw for 122 yards and two scores.
As a program that has gone 8-27 in non-National District games the past 10 seasons, Washington-Lee isn’t about to undersell its 13-7 win Friday over Fairfax, this after a 14-12 season-opening loss to McLean in the which the Generals did not allow an offensive touchdown.
“When you do something outside the district, it’s a big deal,” said sixth-year Washington-Lee Coach Josh Shapiro. “Before when I took the job, we were just looking to compete in every game and compete within our district.”
The Generals are 5-10 in non-district games in the past five years, including 0-3 last season, and were 3-17 in the five years before that.
W-L had four sacks (two by junior Trevor McManus) and about the same number of quarterback pressures. Whitmore and junior Dwyane Williams each had interceptions. Junior Robby Moore had two tackles for losses. Senior Fred Williams rushed 20 times for 139 yards.
The Generals were penalized for 175 yards and dropped six passes.
“Without getting ahead of ourselves, we have a very explosive offense that hasn’t clicked entirely,” Shapiro said. “We’ll do four-fifths of everything right. We’re real close to breaking out.”
W-L plays at Edison (0-2) on Friday.
Held out because of a leg injury for much of the preseason and the first week of the regular season, McLean lineman Burke Bartow, a second-team All-Met last season, returned for the Highlanders in limited duty last Friday.
In their first year under Worek, the Highlanders are off to a 2-0 start. Worek, who replaced Jim Patrick, now the director of student activities at McLean, said he believes the team is starting to adjust to the new staff.
And while Bartow has been out, Worek has been impressed with the play of several starters, most notably wide receiver and defensive back Samer Abdelmoty. In two games the senior has seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown, and he has been equally impressive at defensive back, Worek said.
Despite graduating more than 40 seniors, No. 11 Westfield has shown little signs of a drop-off.
The Bulldogs are averaging 53 points a game in the opening weeks, thanks in part to the play of quarterback Chris Mullins. The senior played limited snaps last season in relief, but Westfield Coach Kyle Simmons praised him during the preseason.
Mullins so far has rewarded his coach’s faith, showing efficiency in his first two starts. The 6-foot-2 passer has connected on 16 of 26 throws for 239 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions.