Tim Weldon off and running

After fighting his way to the starting lineup, Father Judge’s Tim Weldon is ready to be a leader on the football field.

Tim Weldon, the bulky tailback, brings size and speed to the Father Judge backfield. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Tim Weldon has played football for as long as he can remember. And he’s done just about everything you can imagine on the field. But this year, he’s going to do something for the first time.

Weldon is a senior running back and defensive lineman on the Father Judge High School football team, and unlike last year when he fought his way into the starting lineup after three games, he comes into his final year as one of the veterans.

The role is new, but it’s one he’s been preparing for since he first strapped on the pads.

“This is really my first year, going in, as a leader,” the Oxford Circle resident said. “Last year, I was coming from the (junior varsity) team, and growing up, I was always big, so I would play with older kids in (weight class) football. This year, I’m ready to be a leader because I’ve learned a lot and paid attention to great leaders, but it’s the first time I’ve been looked at as a leader.”

In that regard, Weldon could have some growing pains.

But when it comes to playing the game, he’s more than ready.

Weldon became the Crusaders’ starting running back in the third game of last season, and once he got going, so did the Crusaders.

He finished the season with about 700 yards, and he eclipsed the 100-yard mark in three of the team’s final four games. Not so coincidentally, Judge went 3–1 in those games.

This year, he’ll serve as the featured back and he’ll also see a lot of time trying to stop running backs when he lines up at defensive end. This marks the first time he’ll play defensive line for the Crusaders, but it’s something he’s done during his younger days.

“I love offense, but growing up, I was a defensive lineman, so I know how to do it,” Weldon said. “I just want to be in a position that can help us win. Defense, offense, both, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Weldon is a blazer, but what makes him such a tough running back is his size. He stands 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 205 pounds, which makes him difficult to bring down.

“I’m not much smaller than the linemen,” Weldon said. “I’m not as tall as them, but they weigh about 220 or 230. Some are bigger, and they’re strong, but I’m a big running back.

“I love running behind our line, and I love seeing the (defensive players’) eyes. When you see them looking worried, you know you’re in their head.”

With the experienced tailback and a first-year starter at quarterback, it’s fair to assume the Crusaders will lean heavily on the run. But Weldon believes Judge will be a balanced team, and those who don’t know the young Crusaders going into the year will know all about them after a few games.

“Shane Dooley didn’t start last year because we had Rob King, but he’s a great quarterback,” Weldon said. “He’s going to be really good. And we have a lot of good receivers, too. Some played a little last year, some are young, but they’re good, too. They’re going to be really good, and I think people will be surprised how good they are.”

That’s why Weldon is so optimistic heading into the year.

Judge opens its season on Friday at Ridley. The Crusaders have a tough schedule, which includes all of the great teams in the Catholic League Red Division, including state powerhouses St. Joe’s Prep, La Salle and Archbishop Wood. Throw in neighborhood rival Archbishop Ryan, and Judge doesn’t have an easy game all year.

Weldon doesn’t see a tough schedule, he sees a bunch of challenges the Crusaders are ready to tackle head on.

“My goal is just to get better every game and grow together,” Weldon said. “We’ve been working all year. We lost a lot of great players, but we have a lot of new players who are going to be good.

“Our first goal is the (Catholic League). That’s the first one, we want to win that and then go as far as we can. It’s a great league, but that’s our goal.”

He also has goals off the field.

Weldon, who also runs sprints on the Crusaders’ track team, has his sights set on playing football in college. He also has a career choice picked out.

“I want to major in engineering,” Weldon said. “I’m good at chemistry, science and numbers, and I want to go into that field.”

He could also go a different route.

This summer, Weldon worked with his uncle as an electrician. Just like in football, he absorbed as much as he could and then went full steam ahead.

“For the first week or so, I just observed and watched everything he did,” Weldon said. “Then one day, he kind of surprised me, and said to replace a switch. I figured it out. It was a great job, I learned a lot.”

His uncle isn’t the only family member who helped Weldon succeed.

His parents, both former athletes, are huge supporters, but he also gets a lot of help from his younger sisters, Taris, 14 and Tamia, 6. If you take in a Judge football game this fall, you’ll likely hear them.

“They’re always there, cheering for me,” Weldon said. “They’re good athletes. They always tell me how good I did, and are always there. My whole family comes to the games. I want to give them a reason to be proud.”

He already has. ••