Williams' kids are all right
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary doesn't run photographs with all of its definitions. Were it to run photos with the definition of "precocious," don't be surprised to see pictures of Alex Scyocurka and Darren Hartwell with it.
By definition, precocious is either "exceptionally early in development or occurrence," or "exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age." However you define it, both Scyocurka and Hartwell have made themselves into key cogs for the offense of the Williams College football team.
Scyocurka is especially precocious. He's a freshman running back from Longmeadow who was a standout at Longmeadow High School and Phillips Exeter Academy.
Former Williams coach Mike Whalen said Scyocurka had talent, but one had to wonder how much he'd get on the field with 2009's top running back in NESCAC, Ryan Lupo, back for his senior year.
All Scyocurka has done is provide an outside threat to Lupo's more between-the-tackles run game. And on Saturday, the freshman rushed for 128 net yards on only 11 carries. It included a 59-yard touchdown run, the longest by a Williams running back since Kevin Flynn went 65 yards against Wesleyan in 2007.
"It's a good feeling to finally break the ice. It's a big transition from high school to college," Sycocurka said after the game, "It can be frustrating at first, trying to mesh things up and get the timing down with the line.
"When you break out that first big touchdown and get that 100-yard game, it's a good feeling to get that behind you and hopefully there will be more to come."
Scyocurka came into the game having rushed for 150 yards in three contests, good for a 4.4-yard per carry average. He was certainly Sundance to Lupo's Butch Cassidy. Saturday was Scyocurka's day in the spotlight.
His 59-yard touchdown run was a thing to behold. Scyocurka took the handoff from Pat Moffitt and followed his blockers down the right sideline.
"We had our wide receivers spread out to the right which was basically an off-tackle to the right [play]," the freshman recalled. "It was supposed to go inside the tackle. I was just patient, everyone came crashing inside and I was able to dip it outside. Our receivers are so big, they bullied their cornerbacks. There was that big seam, I saw it and I busted through it. It's easy when the line makes holes like that."
Hartwell is a sophomore, but when it comes to his Williams football career, he's not much more experienced than Scyocurka. Hartwell didn't catch a pass as a freshman and the 6-foot-3 receiver from North Reading only caught one pass in the 2010 opener.
Hartwell's abilities were on full display one week later when he caught 5 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns in Williams' win over Trinity. He hasn't stopped as he now has 448 yards receiving on 15 catches.
Hartwell caught touchdown passes of 83 and 89 yards against Trinity. His 92-yard TD catch on Saturday was 3 yards shy of the school record as Matt Student caught a 95-yard scoring pass from Sean Keenan in 1999.
"It's definitely a big psychological boost," Hartwell said of his catch. "We wanted to come out firing. It was big for us, getting our offense going."
Unless he doesn't play in the final four Williams games, it is likely that Hartwell will etch his name into the record books. His 3 touchdown catches ties the school record for most touchdown catches in a game. It's the second time Hartwell has done that and he joins four other players.
Two more touchdown passes and Hartwell will own the record. Ryan Friend, Class of 2003, caught 8 TD passes that year.
"It's pretty exciting," Hartwell said. "Our offense has really been clicking. Pat Moffitt has been having a great start to the year. Hopefully we can keep it up."
Spoken like a precocious Williams football player.
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