Travell Hall has been on the field for a lot of big wins.
The Abraham Lincoln High School senior was the lead blocker two years ago when Sam Karr rushed for a city-record 416 yards in his team’s first victory over George Washington in 28 years.
Last year, he was playing both ways when the Railsplitters swept the Eagles, including a playoff win over Washington. It was the second playoff win for Lincoln since 1989.
Those wins were some memorable ones for Lincoln and Hall, but on Friday, those triumphs might take a backseat.
Lincoln knocked off Frankford 20-17 on Friday as the Railsplitters beat the Pioneers for the first time since the 1979 season. Yes, it’s been 40 years since Lincoln won the rivalry game. It took overtime to do so, but in the extra session, Hall was behind quarterback Luis Nazario when he snuck into the end zone to end the game after Lincoln held Frankford to a field goal in its OT possession.
According to records kept by Ted Silary, Lincoln beat Frankford 14-12 in 1979 when Wendell Birch threw two touchdown passes to Corey McElveen, and Ed Kaisinger nailed two extra points. Since then, Frankford had won 27 in a row and outscored Lincoln 823-134.
The teams played in 1980 and every year from 1982 to 2004. They also played in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Only three times did Lincoln come within a touchdown of knocking off Frankford. In 1991, the Pioneers won 14-12, and it was less than a touchdown win for Frankford in 1992 and 2004.
“I knew it was a long time since we beat them, but I didn’t know it was that long,” said Hall, a Mayfair resident who was born in 2002. “It wasn’t in my lifetime. The last time we beat them was right around when my parents were born. It’s been a long time.
“I knew we could beat them, even though they’re really good. We knew that if we played smart and did what we needed to do, we could win. And once we held them to a field goal in overtime, I knew we were going to win. We just had to do it.”
The Railsplitters have found a lot of success so far this year.
Their only loss this year was a 6-0 setback to Roxborough during the second week of the season. Their other four games have all been wins. They’ve knocked off South Philly/Furness, Prep Charter, Overbrook and the Pioneers, which put them 4-1 overall, 2-1 in their division.
Their leader, both in terms of play and support, has been Hall, who has been a mainstay on the team since his sophomore year.
Then, he was working out with Karr, who is now playing at West Chester. The biggest thing the successful running back taught him wasn’t on the field.
“He was a really hard worker and he showed me how to work out,” Hall said. “He didn’t help me with football stuff too much, but he showed me how to work hard. That was the biggest thing I took from him.”
Now he’s using that attitude to make the Railsplitters better. And he’s doing it in a variety of different ways.
As a fullback, he’s primarily used as a blocker, although he’s showing he can do damage with the ball this year. In the win over Prep Charter, he turned three carries into 100 yards and two scores. In the South Philly win, he found the end zone three times.
Against Frankford, he had three carries and found some running room, but his biggest contributions were in the blocking department. That might not be his favorite thing to do, but he likes the results.
“Honestly, I like getting the ball, but I like helping the team more,” Hall said. “That’s what they need from me, so I do it. We have a lot of guys who can run with the ball, so if they need me to block, I just do it.”
He’s a key contributor on offense, but his best position might be on defense, where he is one of the best hitters in the Public League. Even when opposing offenses do their best to block him, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound wrecking ball finds a way to make the tackle.
“I like defense a lot, too,” Hall said. “I think everyone sees me as more of a defensive player, and I like defense. I like offense a lot, too, especially when I’m running the ball. But I like winning more than anything. If we win, I think we’re all happy.”
Hall doesn’t just create havoc on the football field. When he’s away from football, he’s creating great designs. He’s an artist, and hopes to study art or art history next year while playing college football somewhere.
He’s already done some design on sneakers and he hopes to continue making beautiful works of art.
“The shoes were great, they were black and all these other colors, it looked pretty good,” Hall said. “I love doing that. I’ve always loved art. Just making things. I think it’s something I would like to pursue.
“I know I want to play football in college. I just need an opportunity. I hope to get some looks and show people what I can do.”
A deep run in the Public League playoffs would help.
Last year, the team picked up a big win in the postseason and Hall believes this year could be another memorable one. And, as he said, as long as the Railsplitters win, he’ll be happy.
“We beat Frankford, so we can beat anyone,” Hall said. “I think we can do good things, even in the playoffs. We just have to keep working.”