Power Broker

Gilman running back Sean Price might have a slender build, but he can still punish defenses.

November 23, 2005|By LEM SATTERFIELD | LEM SATTERFIELD,SUN REPORTER

Sean Price had just powered his way to 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Gilman's come-from-behind win over nationally ranked DeMatha of Hyattsville.

As the teams lined up for the post-game handshakes, Price removed his jersey and shoulder pads, revealing a slender, sinewy upper torso that glistened with sweat in the early September sun.

"Their defensive backs coach said, `Man, you're skinny without your shoulder pads on. I don't see how you can run as hard as you do,' " recalled Price, a 6-foot-2, 208-pound running back. "When I'm not wearing my equipment, players from other teams see me as tall and skinny, but then they find out the hard way that my physique doesn't fit my running style."

Nicknamed "Maniac" early in his Pop Warner days for his tendency to take on tacklers head-on, Price ran the ball out of the Greyhounds' "I" offense with the mentality of a bull and the speed and grace of a gazelle.

"I'm a physical back who can punish a defense. I'll run a sweep if it's called, but I would rather run it between the tackles than to take it outside," said Price, 18, whose Greyhounds have won 17 straight games and earned their seventh Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference crown under ninth-year coach Biff Poggi.

"When I'm running the ball, I'm telling myself I should never get tackled by fewer than three people," Price said. "It's not like I won't make a cut if I can to get a first down, but sometimes, I choose the option of making contact with people."

A week after the 22-19 win over DeMatha, Price carried the ball 29 times for a career-high 251 yards and a touchdown and caught the game-winning 10-yard touchdown pass in a 22-19 overtime victory at St. Joseph Prep of Philadelphia.

And Price was still going strong in the Greyhounds' last game of the season - a 28-0 rout of McDonogh. In that game, Price covered 168 yards on 18 carries and scored on runs of 10 and 73 yards as the Greyhounds finished with a 9-0 record, a No. 1 ranking in both The Sun and the state poll, and a No. 21 national ranking in USA Today.

"Every big game, he played a big part in the outcome for Gilman, offensively," said Sheldon Shealer, editor of MDVarsity.com, a recruiting Web site. "Pretty much he's rushing for 150 or 175 yards, and he's scoring two touchdowns or the game-winning touchdown. They've won most of their games on Sean's back."

Price, who totaled 1,701 yards and 13 touchdowns on 264 carries, excelled behind an offensive line whose average size was 6-3, 215 pounds. And he did so over a schedule that included two nationally ranked teams and seven others that had been rated among the top 25 teams in Maryland at some point.

"Sean would just step up to the plate at the end of every big game, even with the number of times he carried the ball being as incredible as that is, he would just refuse to go down after a hit or a tackle," Gilman assistant coach Keith Kormanik said. "Sean did a ton of work in the offseason to the point where he came back feeling a lot stronger. Whatever happened, we wanted the ball to be in his hands."

Price entered the season determined to answer questions about his vulnerability, having been forced to the sideline as a result of injuries for three games each as a sophomore and a junior.

"I played mostly defense as a freshman, but didn't get much playing time. Then, in 10th grade I played seven games because I injured my back and my left shoulder making a tackle. My junior season, I dislocated the right shoulder against DeMatha and missed three games," said Price, who rushed for 172 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-24, season-ending win over McDonogh last year.

Price ended 2004 with 1,051 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns - good for second-team All-Metro honors in The Sun. "I had a pretty good season last year, but I felt like I had a lot of questions to answer to myself and others," he said, "Like, `How good am I?' or, `How good can I be if I can stay healthy?' "

This year, Price took care of his legs in the days following big games. "I'd go home, get off my feet, lay down, use the Ben-Gay patches and heating pads. I would generally use the weekends to recuperate and stay healthy," he said.

Price also became more astute at reading defenses and following his blocks - particularly those of fullbacks Ben Eaton (6-0, 210 pounds) and John Pagliaro.

"Ben doesn't just block - he clears people out. I've seen people just run away from him, because he never takes a backward step," Price said. "As a junior, I felt like I tried to do it all myself - running ahead of my blockers, running people over, making plays on my own. This year, though, I was just a lot smarter overall."

Armed with a 3.0 grade point average and 4.45-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Price appears to have plenty of options when it comes to playing in college, Kormanik said.

"Because of Sean's frame, it's an interesting situation: Some schools are looking at him as a linebacker; Syracuse is looking at him as a free safety; Penn State is looking at him as a tailback," said Kormanik, who handles Price's recruiting.

"Duke has already given us a written letter saying Sean has a full scholarship," Kormanik added. "Because he's such a good athlete, they're trying to determine where he's needed the most and where he can be benefited the most."

Notre Dame, Virginia, Iowa, N.C. State, Maryland and North Carolina also have expressed interest in Price.

"I'm not stocky or muscular as a lot of people think a running back should be, but it's been that way my whole life as a running back," Price said. "And what you might think I lack in terms of my physique, I'm going to make up for it with my heart."

lem.satterfield@baltsun.com

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