Karr cruises to Public League record book

Abraham Lincoln High School senior running back Sam Karr turned 21 carries into 416 yards and seven touchdowns at a recent game.

Lincoln running back Sam Karr rushed for 416 yards and seven touchdowns in a win over Washington. PHOTO: SAM KARR

The Public League has had football since 1901, and during that time, there have been a lot of great athletes who’ve participated in the sport. On Friday, Sam Karr did something nobody ever did in the first 116 years.

Karr, a senior running back at Abraham Lincoln High School, turned 21 carries into 416 yards and seven touchdowns as the Railsplitters bested George Washington 48–22. He had touchdowns of one yard, 10, 33, 15, 80, 55 and 50.

His helpers on the day were an offensive line that featured tight end Matt Wasco, tackles Donte Price and Leonard Brooks, guards Christian Rivera and Ka’Vonn Porter-Parker and center Kenny Brough.

“It doesn’t even seem real,” Karr said on Saturday afternoon, just after he finished taking the SATs at Father Judge. “I was sitting there in our enemy’s school, thinking about breaking the record. It made it a little hard to focus. I saw some Judge guys, like Mark Maguire, and I shook his hand. I like those guys, but they’re our rivals, so it was weird being in their school.

“I always knew I could do something like this, but it wasn’t just me, it was everyone. Everyone on the team was so happy because they did it, too. I’m getting so many texts, calls, it’s going crazy. Crazy. I can’t believe it happened, but I’m not surprised because of the work we put it.”

The rushing record wasn’t the only reason the Railsplitters had to celebrate. The win over Washington marked the first time in 28 years Lincoln bested their neighbors to the north. And it comes one season after Lincoln won its first playoff win since 1989.

For the Railsplitters, things are looking up.

“Lincoln is a football school in a lot of ways, so it’s really good to see us doing things that haven’t been done in a long time, or with the record, never done at all,” said Karr, who lives in Holmesburg. “Last year, we had a lot of seniors who were really good. I knew those guys for years so I kind of shadowed them and learned whatever I could. Now this year, I feel it’s my year. It’s our year, and we want to have a great year like they had last year.”

Karr has been driving the Lincoln offense for the better part of two years now. Last year, he didn’t come into the season as a featured back, but along the way he became one of the key weapons who led Lincoln to its historic season.

This year, he’s already found the end zone 18 times and just as his team is improving, so is his game.

After opening the season on a four-game losing skid, Lincoln has now won its last three and is now 3–1 in the Public League National Division.

“I think in the beginning of the season, we were all playing for ourselves and not for each other,” Karr said. “Ever since we turned it around, things are going so much better. We’re all playing for the team, to win as a team. Now that we’re doing that, we’re playing so much better.”

To a man, Lincoln is playing well, but Karr is the catalyst.

Not only is he the most dynamic player on offense, he’s also a star linebacker. Against Washington, he notched five tackles and forced a fumble, which came in the third quarter when the teams were knotted at 22.

“I knew we all had to play better because it was close,” said Karr, who had an 80-yard run on the drive after Washington’s fumble in the red zone. “After we did that, we all had to play better because we couldn’t let them come back. They’re good, and if we didn’t beat them, they could have come back.”

Karr still has some items to check off his Railsplitter bucket list before he graduates.

First and foremost, his goal is to win a championship at the school. He also hopes to break the school rushing record, which according to tedsilary.com belongs to Charlie Peoples, who rushed for 1,443 in 1988.

And finally, he’d like to find a school where he can continue his football career, though he is unsure what his major will be.

“I told our coaches, I don’t want to know what I need, what I have, I just want to break the record and then I’ll find out,” Karr said. “The record isn’t just for me, it’s for everyone. You can’t do it yourself, you need everyone to do it.”
Karr loves to share his accomplishments.

After he made his mark in the Public League record book, he called him mom to tell her the good news.

“My mom works so she couldn’t be at the game, so I called her right after the game and she cried,” Karr said. “Then she got really happy. She was telling everyone, and I got a lot of texts and messages, friend requests. It was great.

“My family couldn’t make it because they work, but my family was there. I look at the team as my family, and they were all there and we were all excited about it. We did this together.”

Now the only thing left is to win together.

“We’re playing better every week, and we’re still getting better,” Karr said. “I really think we can play with anyone. We’re so much better as a team. That’s how we’re going to win, by playing together.”

A Lincoln championship? That would be another one for the record book. ••