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Hopewell tailback ready to replace state's all-time rusher

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Hopewell running back Adam Murray.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Hopewell running back Adam Murray.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Hopewell head coach Dave Vestal with Pat Tarquinio.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Hopewell head coach Dave Vestal with Pat Tarquinio.

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Schedule

Coach: Dave Vestal

2011 record: 7-4, 4-3

Date Opponent Time

8.31 at Montour* 7:10

9.7 at Chartiers Valley* 7

9.14 Blackhawk* 7

9.21 at West Allegheny 7

9.28 at Moon* 7:30

10.5 Ambridge* 7

10.12 Central Valley* 7

10.19 at Freedom 7

10.26 New Castle* 7

*conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing Nolan Harmotto*

33-75, 524 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing Rushel Shell*

311-2,312 yards, 27 TDs

Receiving Shell*

8-178 yards, 1 TD

*Graduated

Top high school sports
Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 7:58 p.m.
 

Hopewell tailback Adam Murray must replace the greatest high school rusher in state history.

And he's fine with that.

“I like all that pressure,” Murray said. “We'll see what happens.”

The Vikings are prepared for their first season following the Rushel Shell era, a four-year period highlighted by broken WPIAL, state and national records. Now a freshman at Pitt, Shell topped a talented graduating class that included quarterback Nolan Harmotto and fullback Zach Romah.

“It was a strange feeling,” Murray said of the first summer workouts without them. “I basically played with them my whole life, but now everyone has to step up.”

Murray, a senior, has done his part to make the transition move smoothly.

“He's a really hard worker and a very good leader,” Hopewell coach Dave Vestal said. “I've seen a difference in him since the beginning of the summer. He's focused. I think he's on a mission, saying: ‘I know Rushel has been here the last four years, but now it's my turn.'

“There's a sense that he's taking over the ship, and making sure we're headed in the right direction.”

Senior Stefan Mrkonja will replace Harmotto at quarterback. Only four defensive starters remain from last season's playoff team, and three on offense. A few others saw considerable minutes. They include inside linebacker/fullback Mike Tempalski (5-11, 210), receiver/defensive back Arion Sepp (6-2, 180) and two linemen, Acantay Patton (6-3, 215) and Nick McCracken (6-2, 210). Murray (6-0, 200) also plays outside linebacker.

“It's going to be a challenge,” Vestal said. “We need to keep growing each week.”

The key could be its defense. The Vikings would like to slow games, limit scoring and use a ball-control offense that features Murray.

“Playing better defense would allow us to control the tempo of the game,” Vestal said.

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