Loper latest in line of stellar Rustin running backs

WESTTOWN – In a short amount of time, nine years to be exact, West Chester Rustin has put together a pretty impressive list of star players.

From Steve Hess to Anthony Nash to Chase Hoyt and especially Rondell White, Rustin has some names that would be near the tops of many local programs that have been around for decades.

The latest name ascending the proverbial list is senior running back Terry Loper. Because of where those before him put Rustin as a program, Loper was a known prospect entering high school.

With just three regular season games left in his prolific career, Loper has done his part to validate his name being mentioned with White and West Chester East’s former running back, Fred Maldanado, when Rustin coach Mike St. Clair first talked about his young star a few years back.

“I think he’s lived up to what we thought he would be at running back,’ St. Clair said. “We’ve been blessed with the running backs we’ve had since we’ve been here. It makes the offense run that much smoother when you have a back that can break 60, 80-yard runs rather than going four or five yards at a time down the field. It’s nice to have that kind of gamebreaker.’

Lining up primarily at left halfback in Rustin’s wing-T offense, Loper has fit in perfectly in the run-heavy scheme. In the six games he’s played this season, Loper has taken 52.8 percent of the handoffs, and run the ball on 44.4 percent of all of Rustin’s plays. Last season he touched the ball on 43.9 percent of Rustin’s plays.

The result has been nearly 3,000 rushing yards. Combine that with his 766 yards as a sophomore, and Loper has 3,672, just 389 shy of White’s school record. Loper, who was in middle school while White ransacked opposing defenses, said White’s record was definitely on his radar.

“I watched (White’s) games here and there in middle school,’ Loper said. “I told my coaches then I was gonna break his records when I got into high school. It has been a goal of mine but I have to praise my offensive line because they allowed me to be better and get this close. I give them all the credit.’

That is one of the perks playing running back for Rustin, having a powerful line in front. Whether the chicken came before the egg or visa versa, the line of Ray Bordley, Christos Moscharis, Sean Weaver, Pat Durant, Phil Vecchiolli, tight end Matt Hosking, and the ability of Loper has been explosive.

In the 26 games Loper has carried the ball in his career, he has gone over 100 yards in 17 of them. Six times has he gone over 200 yards, with a pair of them over 300.

“It’s nice to know I don’t have to rely on myself to make big plays,’ Loper said. “Coming into Rustin knowing I’d have a big line has been very beneficial. I’m able to focus on my skills and I can expect to hit the second level with these guys.’

Rustin dismantled Great Valley 54-13 three weeks ago, and Loper ran for 347 and three touchdowns. Tonight’s game against Unionville is once again the unofficial Ches-Mont American Division championship game. While the Golden Knights can’t wrap up their sixth title in seven years with a win over the Indians, they put themselves in a great position with Kennett and Octorara left on the schedule.

Loper ran for 185 yards and two TDs against Unionville in last season’s win, and could be the difference in what appears to be a matchup of two otherwise even teams. The Indians’ defense leads the area in points against, giving up 12.1 per game. In Unionville’s five wins its defense has surrendered just 3.8 points per game, but in the two losses the defense has give up 33 per game.

A healthy Loper may be the biggest factor in determining which Unionville defense shows up. Nursing a shoulder injury, Loper sat out against Sun Valley last week but practiced this week and said he’s ready to go against one of his biggest rivals.

Though the Golden Knights did fine without him, St. Clair will be thrilled to have Loper back.

“The whole teams plays with a lot more confidence,’ St. Clair said. “With Terry in the game, he brings good leadership for us out there.’

Loper said his top three choices for his potential college career are University at Buffalo, Duquesne University and Monmouth University, though he’d listen if Temple and/or Villanova offered.

Before the next chapter in his football career, though, Loper hopes his finest run comes in the form of advancing in the playoffs. A win over Unionville would all but seal a first-round home game.

“It’s very big,’ Loper said. “To go in and win a couple games, especially since it’s our senior year, we want to win as many as possible. We’re gonna remember which teams we beat and who we lost to, but after a couple of one-and-dones that last couple years we’re looking forward to making a deep run.’

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