Football

A little slow to adjust to the offense after transferring from N.C., Wildcats rusher proves he is an effective offensive force

Lasting impression

November 22, 2006|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun reporter

When Anthony Gunn transferred to Arundel last season, coach Chuck Markiewicz saw potential. He also realized patience was going to be required.

The Wildcats run a no-huddle offense that takes a while to learn. When it's running smoothly, though, it's the opposing defense that has trouble picking it up.

And when Gunn got comfortable, Arundel was able to make the opposition very uncomfortable.

The proof is in the numbers. Thirteenth-ranked Arundel outscored its opponents, 321-106, in 10 regular-season games.

Arundel advanced to the Class 4A East regional for a fourth straight season and, despite its offensive firepower and much improved defense, was eliminated for a fourth straight year in the first game. The Wildcats lost their third straight regional semifinal to Old Mill, 18-12, on Friday.

Gunn carried 24 times for 72 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown dive in the second quarter.

It took Gunn until the middle of this season to start having an impact on the Wildcats' offense after transferring last year as a junior from Manteo (N.C.) High.

Gunn has developed into a 1,000-yard rusher to more than complement junior quarterback Nick Elko, who has thrown for 1,814 yards and 18 touchdowns.

"In the past, we've had to sink or swim with our quarterback, but now we're fortunate to have Anthony running the ball," said Markiewicz, who won a state title in 1994 at North County.

"There is one of two things [opposing defenses] can do: stop the pass or stop the run. You can't do both, and we are fortunate enough to have both working for us."

Markiewicz could see last year that Gunn had talent.

"When I first saw him, he looked the part, but sometimes we don't let transfers who come out late [to preseason] play," Markiewicz said. "But we talked about it and decided to let him play. I'm glad we did.

"It took him a while to get used to our offense, where we use zone blocking. At the school he came from, he just ran the ball, and here he had to learn to read the linemen."

Gunn said he ended up at Arundel because his mother, Alvera Lewis, and stepfather, Lamont Lewis, were concerned about his academics slipping at Manteo.

"My mom looked on the Internet and saw that Arundel had a good reputation academically and that it would be good for me," said Gunn, who has a 2.75 grade point average.

"It was different, and I was kind of a loner at first. But I started making friends and got a part-time job at Muvico in Arundel Mills doing surveys for Nielsen ratings on the weekends."

After running for just 133 yards and no touchdowns in the first three games, Gunn who is 5 feet 7 and 205 pounds, has rushed for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns in the last eight.

"I can't do it without my line; they've been working hard," said Gunn, who also has 14 receptions for 132 yards.

Gunn started a string of seven consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing with 135 yards on 28 carries in a 26-13 win over Southern.

It didn't take long for someone who considered himself a "loner" to become popular at Arundel.

It also didn't take long for Arundel to take off once Gunn got going. The Wildcats were 2-1 after losing their third game, 24-13, to No. 7 Broadneck (9-1), as Gunn was held to 24 yards on nine carries.

Including the playoff loss, Gunn ran for a county-leading 1,211 yards and 11 touchdowns on 195 attempts (6.2 yards per carry) in 11 games.

"I'm glad I came here because it's like being in college with the four-wide offense and pass plays," Gunn said. "It gives you a step ahead on college. Coach Markiewicz and Coach [Dave] Doy [offensive coordinator] have been great, teaching me a lot of footwork.

"They've really helped my speed because I was a 4.9 [seconds in the 40-yard dash] when I came here and now I'm a 4.68 runner. Here the `dynamic warm-up' [whole-body workout] they use has really helped me."

Markiewicz is glad Gunn transferred for another reason. "He's a tremendous kid, very polite, and is like that all the time. It's no front," he said.

Markiewicz also thinks Gunn can play in college, but that he's not on people's radar because it took him a while to hit his stride.

"But, hopefully, he'll be noticed during the playoffs," Markiewicz said before Arundel was eliminated.

Unfortunately for Gunn and the Wildcats, that opportunity is gone.

Gunn wants to play college football and plans to major in criminal justice. "I would like to get into the FBI," he said.

pat.omalley@baltsun.com

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