GLENOLDEN >> Kalie Kuyateh was aware that his name was being called from the Interboro student section.
Chants of “Kalie! Kalie Kalie!” could be heard loud and clear.
Kuyateh, the star senior running back for Interboro in Friday night’s season-opening, 26-13 victory over Strath Haven, played coy when asked about his adoring fan club after the game.
“Yeah, well … it’s a great feeling,” he said.
Kuyateh was the lightning to backfield mate Joe Forte’s thunder. The one-two punch that is sure to give defenses fits all season long combined for 196 yards and 30 carries. Kuyateh rushed for a game-high 134 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 18 totes. Forte chipped in with 62 yards on 12 hard-nosed carries.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) August 26, 2017
Running the football is nothing new at Interboro. Under coach Steve Lennox, it’s how you would define the Buc Way.
“It’s always the game plan at Interboro,” Kuyateh said. “We’re a run heavy team and we came out and did what we were supposed to do. It worked out for us.”
Kuyateh accrued 98 yards on 10 carries after halftime. He got stronger as the game wore on, and his mix of speed and power — coupled with Forte’s freight-train approach to running the ball — put a strain on Strath Haven’s front seven. Kuyateh ripped off a 38-yard run on Interboro’s first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, then capped the seven-play drive with a 14-yard sprint and leap across the goal line.
“It felt good to be out there,” said Kuyateh, who was effective in a limited offensive role last year while backing up All-Delco Chris Thomas. “I feel like I’m getting the reps that I deserve, which is nice. I worked really hard.”
Interboro needed a spark in the first quarter when it exchanged long, but unfulfilling drives with Strath Haven to start the game. On the final play of the period, junior Tom Convery ran back a punt return 87 yards for a touchdown.
“It was the beginning of the game — I knew I had to score a touchdown,” said Convery, who notched an interception in the third quarter and converted a pair of extra-point kicks.
Convery’s explosive punt return accounted for the lone score of the first half. He picked off Strath Haven quarterback Jake Fisher to snuff out what had been an impressive drive by the Panthers to begin the second half. Following Kuyateh’s first touchdown scamper, Strath Haven pulled within seven points when Fisher took a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 and darted 29 yards to paydirt.
But Interboro’s rushing attack was too much for Strath Haven. A 16-play drive that chewed up nearly seven minutes of clock featured several third-down conversions. Kuyateh put the game out of reach with a four-yard scoring run.
“I’d say that, defensively, our front seven has to get better,” said senior two-way lineman Lee Holbert, who registered a sack early in the first
quarter and played well on both sides of the line. “We have to work on form tackling. They really hurt us on the outside runs and we couldn’t stop them up the middle. As great teams do, they started to run the ball more outside and we have to start covering that better.”
The Panthers also had trouble getting the ball to their best playmaker, senior athlete Thomas Foster, who was limited to two receptions for 21 yards. Zack Hussein shouldered the load with 70 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
“We’re mostly young … and for a couple of guys, it was their first time playing varsity,” Holbert said. “We can always build off of this loss and hope to get better. We will continue to work.”
Top photo: Interboro’s Kalie Kuyateh, left, here looking to evade would-be Strath Haven tackler Thomas Foster, scored two touchdowns Friday night as the Bucs defeated the Panthers 26-13. (PETE BANNAN – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)