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Taking the direct route


North Carroll's Bryan Hall knows one direction.

If it means running over a would-be tackler, so be it. If he must carry a couple others on his back along the way, that's fine, too.

The 5-foot-9, 215-pound senior fullback has rambled for 497 yards this season with a straight-ahead approach that dares defenses to stop him.

"There's a story that came out of the Westminster game," said North Carroll coach Bill Rumbaugh.

"In the second half, Bryan had a long run and broke into the Westminster secondary. When he got there, he ran over one of their corners or a safety. One of our receivers was walking back to the huddle and, on his way, told their secondary player, 'You can't tackle that guy.' He wasn't trying to show him up, just stating a fact. That kind of confidence I haven't noticed the past couple of years."

Hall ran for 158 yards that night -- the majority coming after he had his ankle iced at halftime -- and scored two touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 20-6 win over the Owls. It's the Panthers' only win so far, but their 1-5 record doesn't show the positive steps the program has taken.

The Panthers took South Carroll into overtime and have been in )) most every other game. When opposing defenses have keyed on Hall, who's averaged 5.5 yards a carry, the Panthers have looked senior running back Mike Green (317 yards) and senior receiver Jason Gelb (19 catches for 353 yards).

"Everybody got together and realized what we had to do and if we all do our jobs, good things will happen," said Hall. "We've always been a hard-working team, but our record doesn't show it with the tough teams we play. Sometimes we get down a little in practice, but when Friday comes and we've held our own against a good team, it's all worth it."

Hall has been playing football for 12 years -- the first eight in the North Carroll rec program before reaching the high school level.

He's never played on a winning team, but has endured and grown into a winner. The program has grown with him.

"I won't say we've turned the corner yet, but we can see the corner," Rumbaugh said.

Hall won't be there when the Panthers get around that corner, but his influence will remain. His neighbor, Greg Bair, is a freshman fullback who he's helping.

"We're getting the younger guys in the weight room and #F stressing how important it is," Hall said. "We don't get a lot of respect or recognition, but those guys notice and that makes me feel good."

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