RADNOR >> Into the usual projected swirl of expected Catholic League football excellence has entered another factor. Make room for Archbishop Carroll … or so Dahmir Ruffin announced Friday with his words and actions.
Ruffin rushed for 186 yards and added 21 as a receiver, helping the Patriots open their season with a 48-12 victory over visiting Olney. Considering that Carroll has already matched its victory total from 2016, it was as reasonable an early RSVP as any for entry behind the Red Division’s VIP velvet ropes.
“For sure,” Ruffin said. “We have got to send a message that last year has nothing to do with this year. This is a different team.”
As for Friday, the Patriots were a dominating team, generating 449 yards to the Trojans’ 36, gaining 18 of the game’s 21 first downs, and scoring in multiple ways.
Carlon Brown scored on a pair of receptions from comfortable sophomore quarterback Kamal Grey. Ruffin raced for a 50-yard TD. Richard Kimmel returned an interception for a score. Zachariah Butler, who also rushed for a touchdown, did the same with a punt. Zlanweah Zarwie mixed in a TD run. And Juliano Mastrocola chipped in with six points on PATs.
That looked like anything but the team that was 1-10 last season.
“We made some changes to the coaching staff, changed our offense, and changed our philosophy a little bit,” said second-year coach Dan Connor, the former NFL linebacker. “The culture is night and day from last year. We were building toward it last year, but we never achieved the culture I wanted.
“We have the right mindset, the right leadership, and the guys have bought in.”
While the momentum is building, the Pats did have some stumbles Friday, as Olney (0-1) scored on an 83-yard fumble return by Anthony Rodriguez, then when Cornell Robinson recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. And Carroll was hit for 75 yards in penalties.
“That stuff has to be cleaned up,” Connor said. “When we get to our league, that won’t work.”
Both Olney scores were in the first half … and the Patriots were substantially cleaner in the final 24 minutes.
“We had some mistakes, but we can fix those and go forward and have an excellent season,” said Brown, who provided 72 receiving yards. “We are a team that works together. We build. We had a lot of struggles in the past. But this year, we are turning a new leaf. And we are definitely going to have a great season.
“Tonight, we had each others’ backs, stuck together and won this game. Next week, Conwell-Egan. We’ll do the same thing. We can surprise people and win a lot of games … a lot of games.”