Hopewell running back Shell nears run mark
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Since he started wearing horns on his helmet, Rushel Shell has had a bull's-eye on his back.
Yet the Hopewell senior is on the verge of breaking a WPIAL record that was set when he was in kindergarten.
Shell needs 135 yards tonight against Mt. Lebanon to eclipse the WPIAL career rushing record of 7,646 yards, set by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo in 1999. Based on his career averages, it's a good bet Shell will break the mark.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back has had 32 consecutive games with 100 or more yards, which is seven games shy of breaking the national record set by Billy Sims of Hooks, Texas, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma in 1978 and was the top pick in the '80 NFL Draft. Shell, who said he has narrowed his college choice to Alabama, Pitt and Oregon, is averaging 226.8 yards a game during that streak, with 18 200-yard games and five 300-yard games, including 366 yards against Moon last Friday.
"He always seems to do something that amazes you in the course of a game," Hopewell coach Dave Vestal said. "He's a very mature player. He's got size, but he's got speed. He's got the ability to run between the tackles and get those physical yards, but he also has the ability to get a step on the edge and then accelerate and take it the distance. He can hit a home run any time.
"That's why I think, as a coach, you've got to ride that horse. People know he's getting the ball. That's no secret. He still seems to get his yards."
What's more, Shell rushed for 138 yards on 24 carries in a 28-20 loss at Mt. Lebanon last season, when the Class AAAA Blue Devils went undefeated. The only other team to hold Shell to fewer than 140 yards in the past 32 games is Blackhawk: he had 130 last season and 133 in 2009.
Regardless of whether he breaks the WPIAL record, Shell will be honored tonight at Hopewell's Tony Dorsett Stadium. Before the game, he will be presented his game jersey for the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 in Phoenix by members of the U.S. Marine Corps.
"(The Marines) coming when I hopefully break the record will be a great night, a great experience," said Shell, who said he's "not too worried about" the WPIAL record but is focused on returning to the WPIAL Class AAA final.
For now, Shell has his eye on an attainable target: surpassing someone whose name has been mentioned in the same sentence since Shell's sophomore season. Vernillo believes Shell is in his own stratosphere.
"For me to even be in the conversation with that kid is awesome for me," said Vernillo, who played at West Virginia and Slippery Rock. "I'm humbled. Every single Monday at my office, I get an update on the kid. Quit talking about me. It's all about him."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Steelers stopping themselves with suspensions
- Golfer’s body found in lake at Moon country club
- Pirates turn nifty double play in 9th, edge Marlins
- Steelers’ Martavis Bryant facing four-game suspension
- Mylan shareholders approve $34 billion hostile takeover bid for Perrigo
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle mulling rotation options
- Nonprofit hospital titan UPMC’s income eclipses record
- Confederate memorabilia gets favorable attention at Westmoreland Fair
- Class AAAA breakdown: Wealth of talent places target on Central Catholic
- Class AAA breakdown: Armstrong merger shakes up Greater Allegheny Conference
- 10-year-old Blairsville violinist’s expulsion over knife challenged