Samuel Brown spent most of his youth-football career as an offensive lineman.
“From around seven through 12 or 13 (years old),” Brown said of time on the front line with the Mt. Airy Bantams. “I liked it there.”
Brown has left his days in the trenches far behind him, not unlike North Penn defenders in Friday night’s early-season clash of area powers.
Brown shook loose for five touchdowns as La Salle scored an imposing 42-6 victory over North Penn in a non-league battle of Class 6A programs before a large crowd at Crawford Stadium on the Knights campus in Lansdale.
“Five touchdowns – that’s a pretty good night,” La Salle coach John Steinmetz said of his sophomore’s break-out performance. “I didn’t even realize he had that many. He can do a lot of things.”
La Salle (2-0) won its opener 15-12 over Imhotep Charter last Saturday thanks in large part to stingy defense.
The Explorers were sensational on that side of the football again on Friday, with senior linebacker Dillon Trainer and senior defensive lineman Ryan Savage and Sam Graham leading a unit that generated four takeaways and pitched a shutout through the game’s first 42 minutes.
“Our front is pretty good,” Steinmetz said of the Explorers’ line and linebackers.
La Salle’s defense held North Penn (1-1) sophomore running back Khalani Eaton, who had gained 279 yards in a 55-34, season-opening win over Neshaminy, to 13 yards on eight carries in the first half.
But the game ball for this victory belonged in the La Salle offense’s trophy case.
Senior quarterback Jack Machita, who broke his thumb in Week 2 vs. North Penn in 2018 and missed the rest of the season, led an offense that scored touchdowns on five of its first six possessions, excluding a run-out at the end of the first half.
The 6-0, 190-pound Machita was 14-for-18 passing for 259 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve been doing good so far but we’ve got to keep it going,” Machita said. “It’s just two games.”
Machita also broke loose for a 25-yard run in the first half, drawing a rebuke from an assistant coach for fighting off a would-be tackler and refusing to escape to the sideline.
“I’m just glad we got out of this game with Jack in one piece,” Steinmetz said.
The 6-3, 185-pound Brown ran with burst and power and also excelled as a receiver. He finished with 53 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 164 receiving yards and three touchdowns through the air.
“I couldn’t do it without my offensive line,” Brown said. “They had a really good game.”
Brown opened the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run on the Explorers’ first possession.
But he hinted at what was to come on the first play of the next series, scoring on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Machita on a deep slant.
“He’s a beast,” Machita said of Brown. “We try to get him the ball anyway we can.”
Brown caught a 23-yard pass from Machita to set up his third touchdown, a one-yard run. The dynamic sophomore added a fourth score before halftime on a nine-yard slant pass from Machita.
On the first series of the second half, Brown took a swing pass from Machita 30 yards for another score, lifting the Explorers to a 35-0 advantage and initiating a running clock.
“I like catching the ball, getting out in the open field, making defenders miss,” Brown said.
Brown also is a top basketball player, an explosive, high-scoring guard on the hardwood.
“I like them both equally,” Brown said of the two sports. “When it’s football season, I like football. When it’s basketball season, I like basketball.”
Football probably is in Brown’s future, since he already has six scholarship offers from programs such as Michigan State, Temple, Maryland and Pitt.
Brown has come a long way from his days of putting his hand in the dirt as an offensive lineman in youth football.
“After a few years they started moving me to running back,” Brown said. “My dad was a running back growing up. He worked on me with the position.
“I picked it up kind of fast.”
La Salle 14 14 7 7 – 42
North Penn 0 0 0 6 – 6
L: Samuel Brown 4 run (Jake Gandolfo kick)
L: Brown 67 pass from Jack Michita (Gandolfo kick)
L: Brown 1 run (Gandolfo kick)
L: Brown 9 pass from Machita (Gandolfo kick)
L: Brown 30 pass from Machita (Gandolfo kick)
NP: Nate Brown 1 run (kick fail)