Gorman: Shell hearing sounds of his broken records
The holy grail of high school football, a record that has endured for five decades, is about to be broken.
This isn't about Clairton chasing Central Bucks West's winning streak or University Prep's Akil Young setting a Western Pennsylvania single-game record for passing yards, with 462 against Somerset.
Rather, it's about a name synonymous with Sugar Land, Texas: Ken Hall's national prep career rushing record, which has stood since 1953, likely will be eclipsed Friday by Derrick Henry of Yulee, Fla.
Henry needs 102 yards against Taylor County in a Florida 4A playoff game to best the mark of 11,232 yards set by Hall, who went on to play for Bear Bryant at Texas A&M.
Considering that Henry, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound Alabama recruit, owns the national record for consecutive 100-yard games (44), that's pretty much a given.
It was this time last year that Hopewell's Rushel Shell was breaking Billy Sims' national mark with his 39th consecutive 100-yard game. Shell learned via Twitter that his record had lasted less than one year. Not that it came as a surprise.
“I didn't think that one was going to stick too long,” said Shell, now a freshman at Pitt. “For some reason, I knew that one was going to be broken.”
Shell had never heard of Ken Hall nor had he fathomed of running for 11,000 yards. Instead, Shell zeroed in on Jeremiah Young's state mark, finishing with 9,078 yards to break it by 51.
“Honestly, I never really looked at any records. Everyone else brought them up,” Shell said. “If I was focused on a record, I was mostly focused on the state record because it was more within my reach.”
Shell's foray into major-college football has yet to produce record-setting results. It's no wonder the WPIAL playoffs have caused Shell to reminisce.
“It's not all eyes forward,” he said. “Being a freshman, I still miss things about high school football that aren't the same in college.
“Now, everyone on the field is as good as you or even better. That's the biggest thing. It's a big transition, but if you put your mind to it you can do it.”
Shell, however, is well aware that Clairton's Tyler Boyd is five touchdowns away from breaking his WPIAL record (110) and Washington's Shai McKenzie is 379 yards shy of breaking his WPIAL single-season rushing mark of 2,740 yards set in 2009.
Only months removed from high school, Shell sees that his records are about to fall, one by one.
Not that he cares.
“I knew that records are meant to be broken,” Shell said. “That's why they weren't my truest concern. I was always more concerned with winning a championship because they last forever.”