Without Rush in backfield, Mapletown has holes to fill on offense
One of the greatest individual careers in not only Mapletown history, but WPIAL history came to a close in 2017, when Dylan Rush played his final game for the Maples.
Rush piled up nearly 5,700 yards, despite missing the final three games of his high school career because of injury. That total plants him in the WPIAL all-time top 10 list in terms of rushing yardage. On Sept. 15, he set a new WPIAL single-game rushing record with 524 yards against Avella. He also moved into first place on the Mapletown career rushing yardage and scoring lists.
Needless to say, replacing Rush’s production will be nearly impossible, but Greene County’s all-time winningest coach, George Messich, seems up for the challenge.
Over 38 years, Messich has had to replace the likes of Derek Bochna, a four-year letterman at Penn State; Ryan Geisel, who led the Maples to the 2005 Tri-County South title; and Gerod Buckhalter, whom many consider the best wide receiver in school history.
Junior Zachary Greene looks to be the most likely choice to pace the Mapletown run game. He finished third on the team with 30 carries for 64 yards in 2017.
Unfortunately for the Maples, who went 2-8 last fall, Rush was not the only impact player to graduate. The team also lost starting quarterback Ryan Carter and running back/wide receiver Ron Burkholder-Walter, as well as veterans Richie Cacurak. J.T. Hennessey and Kevin Hayes.
Senior Brandon Donley, a tight end and quarterback last fall, will play a bigger role in 2018. Statistically, Donley was the team’s most accurate passer, completing 8 of 18 passes for 50 yards. He also logged five carries for 4 yards.
Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier for Mapletown when it comes to putting together its offensive and defensive lines. Lane Powell, who was one of three All-Tri-County South picks (Rush, Burkholder-Walter), has graduated after anchoring the team in the trenches. Also gone are senior linemates Cameron Rush, Tanner Weston, R.J. Sigley and Austin Tyson.
Seniors James Scott and Robert Friend will be among those called upon to lead up front, while Ethan Carter moves from the line to fullback. Sophomore Blake Holbert could also be a player to watch at 6-foot-1, 260 pounds.
Coach: George Messich
2017 record: 2-8, 1-6
All-time record: 322-455-39
Date, Opponent, Time
8.24, at Avella, 7 p.m.
8.31, Clairton, 7 p.m.
9.7, Jefferson-Morgan*, 7 p.m.
9.14, at West Greene*, 7 p.m.
9.21, at Bentworth*, 7 p.m.
9.28, Chartiers-Houston*, 7 p.m.
10.5, at Greensburg C.C., 7 p.m.
10.12, Monessen*, 7 p.m.
10.19, Avella*, 7 p.m.
10.26, at California*, 7 p.m.
*Class A Tri-County South Conference game
Passing: Ryan Carter*
8-20, 108 yards
Rushing: Dylan Rush*
220-1,464 yards, 19 TDs
Receiving: Ronnie Burkholder-Walter*