Growing up in Salem, Jon Taylor heard abut football legends such as Lydell Mitchell and A.B. Brown.
Now he walks with them.
Taylor jacked his season rushing total past 2,000 yards in leading Salem to a 50-8 victory over Haddon Heights in the first round of the South Jersey Group 1 tournament on Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Taylor, a Wisconsin recruit, ran 15 times for 242 yards and three touchdowns and also scored on three two-point conversions for fourth-seeded Salem (7-2).
Junior Zaire Jones scored on a 65-yard fumble return, a 56-yard interception return, and a 70-yard run for Salem, which will visit top-seeded Woodbury next Saturday in the sectional semifinals.
Woodbury beat Penns Grove, 20-8.
"It's an honor just to be mentioned with those guys," Taylor said of Mitchell and Brown, former Salem running backs who played in the NFL. "You used to hear crazy stories about them growing up, how they wouldn't play with thigh pads or stuff like that.
"To be considered with them, it's amazing."
Salem coach Montrey Wright said both Mitchell and Brown have attended Salem games this season and reached out to Taylor with advice and encouragement.
"They know he's the next big thing out of Salem," Wright said.
Taylor finished the sunny afternoon on the little field on Walnut Street with 2,012 yards, the same amount for which Brown ran in setting Salem's single-season record in 1983.
With possibly three remaining games, Taylor has a chance to break former Glassboro High star Corey Clement's South Jersey single-season record of 2,510 yards.
Clement is a senior at Wisconsin and spent time with Taylor during his official visit to Madison on Oct. 15.
"He was talking to me about day-to-day life there," Taylor said. "It was to talk with somebody from here, from a small town around here. I remember watching him play against Anthony Averett at Woodbury and it's ironic that now we're going to Woodbury."
Taylor scored on runs of 50, 85, and 37 yards to increase his touchdown total to 27, tops in South Jersey. He broke the 2,000-yard mark with his last carry, a touchdown run in which he barreled over a Haddon Heights defensive back on his way to the end zone.
"He's an animal, a beast," Jones said of Taylor. "He's the fastest guy in the state. He can run people over. He has great vision. Put that all together, it's deadly."
Haddon Heights 0 8 0 0 - 8
Salem 16 22 6 6 - 50
S: Jon Taylor 50 run (Zaire Jones run)
S: Jones 65 fumble return (Taylor run)
HH: Jake Barr 5 pass from Matt DiOrio (Tariq Miller pass from DiOrio)
S: Taylor 85 run (Taylor run)
S: Ramere Nick 55 interception return (Taylor run)
S: Jones 56 interception run (run fail)
S: Taylor 37 run (run fail)
S: Jones 70 run (run fail)