High School of the Future senior Tysheem Anderson is an outlier, and it's not just because he can physically dominate a football game despite his 5-foot-8, 170-pound frame.
At a time when – for various reasons – kids transfer to multiple schools during high school, Anderson has remained a Firebird even after several seasons of lopsided losses.
Saturday afternoon, however, Anderson's three touchdowns helped the program complete its rise from the ashes to win the Public League 3A championship.
He also secured my latest City Player of the Week (Catholic, Public and Inter-Ac Leagues).
"People still can't believe it," said Anderson, raising both eyebrows. "I still can't believe it because it took all four years. So it's like, 'Wow, we really did it!' "
Saturday against KIPP DuBois, Anderson scored via two rushing touchdowns, added a 42-yard TD reception, and saw a 60-yard punt return negated by a penalty that happened about 10 yards behind him. And he also made several tackles on defense.
"It was hard because the (team's) talent was always there," Anderson said. "It was just the attitudes. People had attitudes. But we got Coach Marcus (Fulton) last year and he showed us the right way to go. That's how we did it."
In 2015, the Firebirds were fricasseed by Imhotep, 40-0, before the game was halted with 2:51 left in the first quarter by mutual agreement between the teams.
The previous season – Anderson's freshman year – Imhotep mauled Future, 76-14. In 2013, the Panthers beat the Firebirds, 83-6.
Fulton was an assistant coach at Imhotep (2010-13) and Del-Val (2014-15) before taking over Future last season. In the three seasons before his arrival, Future was 1-15 in Public League play and just 5-29 overall.
"To see them now being able to compete," Fulton said, "it's a good feeling for them. It's a good feeling to see them finally get to taste success and see what it's like to win a championship. I'm happy for them."
On Tuesday, the school had a pep rally for its championship football team, replete with a DJ and loud, raucous cheers.
Anderson is a fleet-footed, sure-tackling, team-first player who is used at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. College coaches, however, have yet to express serious interest, he said.
For now, Anderson is focused on the playoffs. On Saturday, Future will play Lansdale Catholic for the 3A District 12 title.
Perhaps the success is a just reward for a young man who learned the value of teamwork even in the face of adversity.
"It shows you what brothers are," he said. "There's a difference between having a football team and being brothers."
Despite its rise, Anderson said he still hears negativity from outsiders about Future's success and its significance.
You can bet that will only fuel their fire.
"We didn't even earn respect from people," Anderson said. "Now we have to take it."
Nasir Peoples, 22 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns in Archbishop Wood's win against La Salle.
Lansdale Catholic sophomore Danny Dutkiewicz ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in the Crusaders' victory against Bishop McDevitt.
Jacir Savory, a junior running back, rushed 26 times for 144 yards and a score in West Catholic's win against O'Hara.
Malvern Prep teammates O'Shaan Allison (senior) and quarterback Drew Gunther (junior), respectively, rushed for 154 and a TD and threw for 213 and two scores in the Friars' domination of rival Haverford School.
Boys' Latin junior Malik Johnson finished with 170 yards (145 in the first half) and three touchdowns (also in the first half) in the Warriors' playoff win against Overbrook.