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Hard work pays off

Austin Medley's track work helped him on the gridiron

To get a better idea why Delsea's Austin Medley enjoyed such a successful football career, one has only to jog to the school's track.

It was during track season that Medley turned himself into the dominating football player who would lead South Jersey as a senior with 35 touchdowns.

Delsea coach Sal Marchese Jr. first saw Medley when he was a middle-school student and felt he could eventually help the varsity. Yet Marchese thought Medley was missing that extra burst that would let him outrun defenders.

"I thought he would be good, but I didn't know he'd be this good," Marchese said. "The work ethic he put in during his off-season workouts has been unbelievable."

In track, Medley has become an accomplished intermediate hurdler, finishing fourth last season in the South Jersey Group 3 400-meter hurdles and being a member of the South Jersey Group 3 championship 1,600-meter relay team.

"He had decent speed before he ever joined track, and now he has great speed," Marchese said.

Medley's power isn't too bad, either.

At 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds, Medley displayed the speed to run by defenders and the power to plow though them.

Many of his jaunts ended in the end zone.

As a senior, Medley rushed for 1,715 yards and 34 touchdowns on 211 carries. He added a touchdown on a 54-yard reception.

Medley also had 53 tackles, caused two fumbles, and recovered two from his linebacker position.

He was the catalyst of a Delsea team that scored South Jersey season record 510 points, went 11-1, and won its second consecutive South Jersey Group 2 title. It was the first time since the NJISAA playoffs began in 1974 that Delsea had won consecutive championships.

For all his accomplishments, Medley is The Inquirer's South Jersey offensive player of the year.

Medley said going to track was a major boost to his football career.

"It helped a lot because the coaches are big on technique," Medley said. "The right technique and form helped me on the football field, keeping my toes up and moving my arms the right way."

Medley said he benefited from outstanding tutelage from both the track and football coaches.

"The coaches have pushed us the right way in track and football, and we have been successful in both sports," he said.

Medley never focused on any individual records. After the Crusaders won the South Jersey Group 2 title to end his junior season, he immediately began training with the idea of helping his team become the first in school history to repeat.

Delsea has won nine sectional titles, and its football history can rival those of most schools in South Jersey. Even Medley was well aware of the history before enrolling. As an eighth grader in 2005, he watched as Delsea went 12-0, won the South Jersey Group 3 title, and ended as The Inquirer's No. 1 South Jersey team.

"We used that 2005 team as a role model and said that we wanted to be like them," Medley said.

With Medley and his running-back sidekick, Sean McPherson, leading the way, the Crusaders became role models for current middle- school students who have the same aspirations that Medley had as an eighth grader.

Now comes the next step: choosing a college. According to Marchese, Monmouth, Rhode Island, Villanova, James Madison, New Hampshire, Monmouth, Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have been in contact about Medley.

"Recruiting has been pretty neat, and I'm enjoying it now," said Medley, who is looking to major in economics.

Marchese said success would continue for Medley because he refuses to be outworked.

"He's also phenomenal in the weight room and is probably the second- or third-best squatter on the team," Marchese said. "And what I like most is that he is such a humble kid."