By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Erasmus Hall won the Public School Athletic League championship last year and all offseason the talk has been about how great Ohio State commit Curtis Samuel is. After all, he did rush for 1,047 yards, catch another 187 and scored a total of 16 touchdowns last season. All that on him has the rest of his team hungry though because they still feel like they have something to prove.
"Absolutely," coach Danny Landberg said when asked if the team was upset at the lack of attention they get. "Elijah Davis, Jose Duncan, Darin Peart, it's not a one man show. Even if it was a one man show, there has to be 10 other guys blocking for that person so it's not going to be a one man show, it never will be. Curtis doesn't get the ball enough to make it a one man show. They all have a chip on their shoulder as well."
One player was especially adept at using that chip on his shoulder as motivated was Kahlil Lewin as he led Erasmus Hall to a 21-7 victory over Tottenville in a rematch of last December's championship game on Saturday at Sid Luckman Field in Brooklyn. With Samuel off to a slow start, Lewin took over the offense and ran for a pair of touchdowns and 104 yards overall. His longest run, a 64-yard touchdown run that put the Dutchmen up 14-7 in the third quarter.
"I don't think he thinks that he really had a good year last year and I think that he'd like to get some of that respect that he feels that he deserves," Landberg said of Lewin after the game. "He works really hard, he's one of the hardest workers on the team. So I think he has a little axe to grind, a little chip on his shoulder."
It's a good thing that Lewin stepped up too as Samuel was limited to just seven runs for 34 yards and one catch for 28 yards. He was also 0-for-1 passing and kicked an extra point. He was still a major contributor as a few of his runs came during key situations including one run on a 4th-and-three situation that ended up being pivotal.
"We get them in a 3rd-and-15 situation, they gain 12 yards and he goes for it on 4th down," Tottenville coach James Munson said. "Ballsy call. If they don't make it, we get the ball on their 33. It was 8-7 at the time. I don't know, I guess he's got more balls than me. I'd punt the ball."
After the game Landberg agreed and said that when you have two backs like Samuels and Lewin, and a sub-par punter, going for it in key situations like that is an easier decision. "I didn't think the punting was so great to begin with so 4th-and-2, Lewin, Curtis, why not? You gotta take a shot," Landberg said.
The rest of the team certainly pitched in as well. Tottenville scored on a 21-yard run by Andrew Russo on the opening drive of the game and it looked like it was going to be tough to stop it. However, Erasmus Hall did manage to quickly put the brakes on it. Russo still got his yards, 190 on the day actually, but the rest of Tottenville's offense was quiet enough that it didn't matter. By the end of the game that 21-7 lead might as well have been 41-7.
"We're pretty sick of the all we got is Kahlil and Curt talk," said Erasmus Hall's Davis. "Don't get me wrong, those guys are the best running backs in the state and are challenging for the best in the country, but my team, we take that personally when you say all you have is Curt and Kahlil and we want to let people know that it's not just two guy."
Davis certainly backed up his talk during the game as he started at wide receiver and eventually had to step in and play quarterback after Daiquan Gwyn suffered a high ankle sprain in his right leg early in the first half. Davis didn't flash his arm much, but did show off his legs when scored on an 11-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to end the game. Davis was set up by Kwanii Figueroa, who recovered a fumble and ran the ball 32-yards on the previous play.
"We got the win, I'll take the win any day of the week," Landberg said. "Conditioning I thought was good, but it could be better. We have to work out the situation at quarterback right now, get a little bit more sound on defense, stay away from the penalties, and learn today's lesson."