Zach Curtin was as upset as anyone.
Curtin is a junior running back and safety on the Penn Charter High School football team, and coming into the season, he was slated to split carries with Ohifame Ijeboi, and the pair combined to give the Quakers two dynamic running backs.
But when Ijeboi suffered an injury in a game against Father Judge, it cleared the path for Curtin to get more carries. He did anything but celebrate.
“Seeing him get hurt was really hard, he’s a great running back and he’s my friend,” said Curtin, who lives in Normandy. “He’s a junior, too, so I’m trying to help him keep a positive outlook. We’re really good friends, we played together on the Little Quakers and we’ve been playing together here, too.
“At times we’re competitive, but I guess I understand that we both contribute in different ways. I think (having two good running backs) helps more than it hurts because we push each other to be the best we can be. I saw him get hurt on film, and it was very upsetting. I’m trying to be there for him.
“I’m trying to help him. At Penn Charter, that’s what everyone does. Last year, I was splitting reps with older running backs, they helped me so much for this year. They guided me into what I’m doing. I want to do the same for my teammates.”
Curtin is helping keep the spirits of his teammates up, and he’s also helping the Quakers get off to a great start this year.
Penn Charter, coached by former Father Judge coach Tom Coyle, is 4-0 on the season and the wins are over quality opponents. So far, the Quakers have bested Neumann-Goretti, Blair Academy, Father Judge and Kiski School. They have won with offense, posting 41 points in the win over Kiski, and defense, shutting out the Saints.
They’ve had a strong season in all aspects, and still have one more tough nonleague game, on Saturday against Lawrenceville School, before heading into their Inter-Ac schedule.
The Inter-Ac might be, top to bottom, the best league in the area, so Curtin is happy his team loaded up with tough nonleague games before heading into divisional play.
“We always seem to schedule very physical teams and it fits our style of play, and helps us,” Curtin said. “Going up against them prepares us for league games.
“The Inter-Ac, I didn’t know it was going to be this good, it’s a surprise to me, but I think we’re a good team, too. It’s going to be great games. It’s a great league. Every team is very good.”
The Quakers are undefeated against some tough competition, so there’s a good chance they’ll be among the teams competing for the top spot.
And they’ll do it by riding their running back, who has put together some great games recently, including a monster game against the Crusaders that saw him gain more than 200 yards from scrimmage, including 189 on the ground, and three touchdowns.
He’s also contributing on defense, and in doing so, is helping his production on offense.
“I’d say I’m more of a power back, gain yards, hit the hole,” Curtin said. “I’m not real shifty, I hit the hole and get as many yards as I can. Here and there, I’ll break a few.
“I like playing defense, too. I think it helps me see the field differently. I’ve always played defense, but defensive back, you see the field pretty well.
“Defense helps playing offense. Just practicing it helps me understand what they’re seeing and imagining what the offense does. You learn a lot from playing both ways. It really helps.”
He’s also excelling in other ways.
The main reason Curtin went to Penn Charter was because of academics, and he’s doing very well in the classroom, too. On top of having a 3.8 grade point average, he’s involved in activities, including two finance clubs. He also helps out with community service.
He also plays lacrosse and runs track.
Both sports help him with his main sport.
“I love lacrosse, but football is my main sport,” Curtin said. “I play (middle defense), so it helps a lot, especially defensive back when I”m playing man to man because you have to stay with the guy, shoot my hands.
“Track, I mostly run to boost my times. It helps. It’s helped my 40 time and my pro shuttle times.”
When he’s not playing sports or focusing on his studies, Curtin likes to relax by going fishing with his dad. But during football season, he doesn’t spend a lot of time relaxing. He has big goals for himself and the Quakers.
“I’d like to average 100 yards a game, that’s my focus on offense,” Curtin said. “I care more about the team, one of our big things is beating Malvern Prep, but every game is big. PC-GA Day is a big one, too, but winning the Inner-Ac would be huge. That’s our main goal.”