WHEN YOU'RE 5-8, 165 pounds and can run like the wind, it's a good idea to have very big bodyguards.
Such is the case for Jarrett McClenton, the Archbishop Wood senior running back who is one of the most dynamic runners in the state.
In Saturday's 63-20 Class AAA semifinal landslide win over Somerset, McClenton finished with 230 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 attempts (19.1 per).
Not to be outdone, fellow senior Alex Arcangeli added three more scores and 140 yards on just 10 totes (14 per).
All told, the Wood offensive line helped the Vikings (13-1) accumulate 591 yards on the ground. This season, McClenton owns 1,958 yards and 33 TDs. Arcangeli has 873 yards and 11 ground tallies.
If both were NFL stars, they'd be expected to shower their blockers with gifts and trinkets.
"Nah, they actually haven't said anything about that," McClenton laughed.
These o-line guys have no problem working for free, but perhaps compliments will do.
"I appreciate them a lot," he said. "They're up there moving guys out of the way so usually I just have to beat one guy and most of the time I can beat one guy."
For senior offensive guard Shawn Scroger, putting up gaudy numbers is great, but it's now on to the next game.
"Personally for me, you get in there, do your job and get out," he said. "I guess you get a little excited because this late in the season you don't really see people putting up big numbers like we did, so it's kinda special, I guess."
Scroger, a second-team Catholic League coaches' selection this season, has been focused on staying healthy after a broken arm scuttled much of last season. After all, these could be his last football days.
The 4.1-GPA student's collegiate plan is Penn State for aerospace engineering, not football.
"This is the first year that I've made it through starting the entire time and not being injured," he said. "It's been in the back of my mind the entire time, 'Am I going to get injured? What's gonna happen? Am I going to stay healthy?' Now, I'm here in the state championship"
On Friday at 7 p.m., the defending state champion Vikings will play District 7 Central Valley (15-0) at Hershey Park Stadium.
Expect extensive ground work from Wood, which attempted just two passes (both incomplete) against Somerset (13-2).
Junior quarterback Anthony Russo, a Division I recruit (football and baseball), is certainly capable, but Wood boasts three, first-team coaches' selections on its offensive line (Ryan Neher, Ryan Bates and Tom Cardozo), and Villanova-bound McClenton. Arcangeli also has drawn Division I interest.
"It's great," Scroger said. "We're all pretty consistent players. We know what we're doing and we're all really smart. You don't really have to worry if the person next to you will make their block and we have our backs behind us that will make plays, too."
Also behind them, Scroger said, is Wood o-line/defensive coordinator Mike Carey, a well-respected, 30-plus year coaching veteran.
"He's a great guy," Scroger said. "He's really tough on us. A lot of times you pretty much can't stand him, but he's a great coach and he's basically made us into what we are today. Without him we wouldn't be nearly as good as we are."