A very good friend of mine and a member high school sports media brethren from Houston, Texas, came up to Pennsylvania during October of the 2010 season to take in some Pennsylvania high school football. Having never been to the state, he wanted to experience a cross section of the state and also see some of what made Pennsylvania famous for its brand of football.
And, most importantly, he also wanted to see Hopewell phenom Rushel Shell, who was then a junior.
So, being a courteous host, I decided that we should take in the Hopewell-Central Valley game at Tony Dorsett Stadium, so he could see Shell perform live while also holding out the hope for a well-played, close football game. Both came to fruition. Shell proceeded to run for 302 yards and score three touchdowns in a 26-22 Hopewell victory.
After the game, driving north on Route 51 toward our lodging for the night outside of Monaca, I asked my friend, "So, what did you think of Rushel Shell?"
He answered quite simply, "Rushel Shell is good at football," before going on and adding that he thought Shell was one of the best running backs he'd ever seen between all of the football he'd seen played in California, Florida and Texas.
Yes, Rushel Shell is good at football. Very, very, very good. Five-star, top-five-recruit-in-the-nation good. But you get the idea.
Shell has had quite the high school football career, racking up 7,827 rushing yards to date and scoring close to 90 career touchdowns just from rushing alone through the sixth week of his senior season. Already in 2011, Shell has surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau, sitting at the 1,061-yard, 12-touchdown mark.
Shell is the 11th Pennsylvania athlete to surpass the 7,000-yard mark in rushing for a career, etching his name in the company of the likes of former Southern Columbia and Pitt fullback Henry Hynoski (7,165 career yards), former West Philadelphia Catholic Burr Curtis Brinkley (7,413 career yards), Pennsylvania's single-season rushing yardage record holder Zach Barket (8,356 career yards), Pennsylvania's first 3,000-yard rusher in a season, James Mungro (8,432 career yards) and the state's all-time rushing leader and current Bucknell Bison Jeremiah Young (9,027 career yards).
In his career, he had surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark in a game 20 times and the 300-yard mark five times. He has participated in seven WPIAL AAA playoff games, including the 2009 WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field opposite West Allegheny. Over 1,000 of his career rushing yards have come in four games against the Moon Area Tigers.
Below are the game-by-game rushing yardage totals for Rushel Shell, from his freshman season all the way to the present, by gleaning Internet box scores and game stories from various media outlets over the last three and a half years Shell has captivated the WPIAL, the state of Pennsylvania, and the national spotlight during his recruiting process:
Week 1 vs. Knoch - 87 yards
Week 2 vs. Mars - 58 yards
Week 3 vs. Ambridge - 38 yards
Week 4 vs. New Castle - 55 yards
Week 5 vs. Blackhawk - 17 yards
Week 6 vs. Riverside - 166 yards#
Week 7 vs. West Allegheny - 208 yards
Week 8 vs. Montour - 216 yards
Week 9 vs. Moon Area - 288 yards
Week 10 vs. Greensburg-Salem - 238 yards*
Week 11 vs. Thomas Jefferson - 154 yards*
Week 1 vs. Knoch - 257 yards
Week 2 vs. Mars - 171 yards
Week 3 vs. Ambridge - 170 yards
Week 4 vs. New Castle - 148 yards
Week 5 vs. Blackhawk - 133 yards
Week 6 vs. Riverside - 264 yards
Week 7 vs. West Allegheny - 349 yards
Week 8 vs. Montour - 263 yards
Week 9 vs. Moon Area - 288 yards
Week 10 vs. Derry Area - DNP (served 1-game suspension for violation of a team rule)*
Week 11 vs. Mars - 265 yards*
Week 12 vs. Hampton - 157 yards*
Week 13 vs. West Allegheny - 275 yards**
Week 1 vs. Belle Vernon Area - 173 yards
Week 2 vs. Montour - 303 yards
Week 3 vs. Moon Area - 267 yards
Week 4 vs. Mt. Lebanon - 138 yards
Week 5 vs. Blackhawk - 130 yards
Week 6 vs. New Castle - 392 yards
Week 7 vs. Central Valley - 302 yards
Week 8 vs. Ambridge - 204 yards
Week 9 vs. West Allegheny - 193 yards
Week 10 vs. Franklin Regional - 170 yards*
11/12/10 vs. Thomas Jefferson - 238 yards*
Week 1 vs. Belle Vernon Area - 147 yards
Week 2 vs. Montour - 233 yards
Week 3 vs. Moon Area - 367 yards
Week 4 vs. Mt. Lebanon - 205 yards
Week 5 vs. Blackhawk - 109 yards
Week 6 vs. New Castle - DNP (concussion-like symptoms)
# = began career as a starting running back for Hopewell
* = WPIAL playoff game
** = WPIAL championship game