Numbers don’t do justice to the way that Curie junior AJ Sanya runs. The Condors’ star running back packs a wallop. The 5-9, 205-pounder had 16 carries for 160 yards and one touchdown in Curie’s 42-18 win against Morgan Park on Thursday at Rockne Stadium.
Sanya is a bulldozer. Curie quarterback Ja’Ki McNeal says that after the first few runs of the game he can usually see the impact on the faces of the Condors’ opponents.
“He puts fear in a lot of people,” McNeal said.
Sanya’s stiff-arm ripped off a Morgan Park defender’s helmet on one play in the third quarter.
“That was nasty,” McNeal said. “[Sanya] is amazing, I love him. After every game we hear the other team talk about how he hits.”
Eight different players ran the ball for Curie, all of them effectively. Condors senior Antonio Howard busted loose for a 69-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game. He had three carries for 88 yards.
McNeal shares time at quarterback with Damarius Johns. The Condors (2-1) have a reputation around the area as team that is extremely reluctant to pass. The run-heavy approach has been very successful for Condors coach Jay McDonagh. Curie has won two of the last three city titles. They lost to Simeon in the title game last year, but beat the Wolverines in conference play.
Things have changed this season. Johns was 5-for-7 passing for 46 yards, with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Howard. McNeal was 2-for-4 for 17 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown pass to Christain Hill.
Eleven passes may not seem like a lot, but it is for Curie.
“We’ve been throwing a lot more and a lot better than last year,” McNeal said. “It feels good. A lot of teams attack us, they think we are going to run a lot. It opens things up for bigger plays.”
Curie led 30-12 at half. Last season Morgan Park trailed the Condors 21-0 but came back to win.
“We knew we couldn’t let up,” Curie linebacker Khoby Udell said. “We had to come out and get revenge.”
Udell was a major factor on defense with a pair of sacks and a big tackle for a loss on a crucial fourth down in the second quarter.
“We usually start the season well on offense,” McDonagh said. “This year our defense is playing much better.”
The Condors beat Bremen 26-0 in Week 1 and lost to Sandburg 23-20 in overtime last week in Orland Park.
“We aren’t where we want to be yet,” McDonagh said. “We only have six seniors, our goal is to get better each week. We want to have a chance to win the conference at the end of the season.”
Morgan Park quarterback Benjamin Little, the hero in last year’s comeback win, was effective again. He finished 11-for-22 passing for 133 yards and one touchdown. He rushed 12 times for 77 yards and one touchdown.
The Mustangs (1-2) weren’t able to get much else going on offense. Senior linebacker Alexander Perkins made a spectacular play in the first quarter. He grabbed the ball out of Johns’ hand in the backfield and ran 61 yards for a touchdown.