F&Ms Four Horsemen?
by Mickey Blymier, Athletics Communications Intern
Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley and Elmer Layden.
Grantland Rice dubbed the famous Notre Dame backfield the Four
Horsemen. For John Harrison, John Kaschak, Alan Williams, and
Jarrell Diggs, their place in Franklin & Marshall's fabled
football history is just being written, but the Diplomats' quartet
has been destructive to date.
Harrison rides ahead of his henchmen, quarterbacking the Diplomats' offense since they took to the soaked sod of Sponaugle-Williamson Field against Washington & Lee in the season opener. The Flourtown native's Fummers whitewashed Washington & Lee's General's 21-0, but it was Diggs that delivered the deathblow with a 49-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Diggs is a dangerous weapon that can strike a defense at any time. This season, he has hit pay dirt five-times in four different ways. Before the receiver ever caught a touchdown pass, he threw the season's longest touchdown and rushed for a score in the 51-13 win over Ursinus. He caught two jump-ball passes in the end zone in the Homecoming win. One was called back on holding, while the other stood as his first career touchdown run.
"Jarrell is just scratching the surface of what he can do," notes F&M Head Coach, John Troxell. "He has the potential to not only be the best player in this program and conference, but in the country."
Of course, a receiver can't catch a thing without a quarterback who can deliver the ball. Because the college game is faster and the offense is more complicated, freshman receivers rarely catch passes from classmates. This was not the case for Harrison and Diggs.
Harrison earned the starting job in August, becoming the first F&M freshman to take the first snap of the season since Rob Shepardson did it in 1979.
"John has a quick release and is a great decision maker," says Troxell. "He spends lots of time preparing, watching film everyday, twice a day."
"He has command of the huddle and has the respect of the team," adds Troxell.
Good friends off of the grid, Williams and Kaschak, have learned to co-exist on the field. Kaschak carried the bulk of the rushing load in the early season when Williams went down with an elbow injury against W&L. The Washington Township, N.J., native carried on well in Williams' absence. Kaschak has twice surpassed the 100-yard plateau, including the win over Juniata, when he carried 42 times for 161-yards and a score. A week later, Williams was back in the lineup, and the carries split.
"We were getting close to the point of overworking John," Troxell points out. "And with Alan getting healthy and being so explosive, it was obvious we had to divide up the workload."
"They are a nice pair to carry the ground game. Both protect the football and possess good speed and excellent vision."
Williams high school credentials left the staff excited about his arrival all summer. The three-time All-Kentucky thoroughbred posted 7,221 total yards on the prep level, and made his way into the end zone 88 times.
"When he gets 100 percent, watch out," says Troxell.
Having four freshmen carrying so much responsibility is not without its downside.
"They still make freshmen mistakes. It does not click right away, but when they do it for the 300th time, it's going to better looking than the 10th time."
It is also an indication that the program is still in the building process. But the class of 2012 shows promise beyond the aforementioned foursome.
"There is still another group of guys in the freshman class that are talented and waiting in the wings behind some pretty good seniors, says Troxell. "You can see that we are getting pretty close to being where we want to be."
Of course, F&M is still plagued by the numbers battle it has faced for the better part of the last decade. The Diplomats will lose 20 seniors to graduation from the 69-player roster, though none are skill position starters on offense. The defense will suffer a much heavier toll.
"Of course we'll need more bodies," says Troxell. "We also need to get bigger in the trenches and develop a second layer of talent to compete for a Centennial Conference Championship."
Famine was one of the four horsemen Rice alluded to in his now legendary piece. It has been four years since F&M has shared in the Centennial crown and 13 years since the Diplomats have taken the boot outright. Ending the football famine in terms of Centennial championships is something Troxell believes he can ride his horsemen to before the class of 2012 graduates.