Jordan McLune is an artist. An escape artist that is.
“I can always make a move. I never give up on a play,” said the 5-8, 190-pound senior tailback who scored 35 touchdowns last season in leading Farmingdale to the Nassau I crown and 11 straight victories before a loss to Longwood in the Long Island Class I championship.
He was an artist without a canvas as a sophomore, playing sparingly behind a couple of seniors. “I felt I could’ve been better as a sophomore, but I just had to wait my turn,” McLune said.
But venerable coach Buddy Krumenacker, who has won 239 games in 34 seasons, the last 22 with the Dalers, believed he had an artist in waiting. “We knew he was going to be good. He’s instinctive. He’s got great feet,” Krumenacker said. “But we didn’t know he was going to score 35 touchdowns.”
And, presumably, Krumenacker and his staff didn’t predict that McLune would rush for 1,985 yards and earn Newsday All-Long Island first-team status. “I just got my chance to play. And it all starts with the line. They did better last year and as the weeks went on, I did better,” said McLune, who is not only a young man of many moves but also one of many laughs.
He’s modest about his considerable talents, frequently laughing as he tries to explain how he manages to score so many touchdowns and amass so many yards when he isn’t a big back and doesn’t have blazing speed. “Wherever I am on the field, I’m trying to score on every play,” McLune said with a shrug and — yes — a laugh.
It may have seemed to opponents that he actually did that, especially in the playoffs where he scored 14 touchdowns in four games. McLune scored 10 touchdowns on runs of at least 30 yards, with a long of 82, and scored six touchdowns and rushed for 267 yards in a quarterfinal victory over Freeport.
He didn’t always outrun defenders, but time and again he outmaneuvered them with sharp cuts and an uncanny ability to make tacklers miss, even when it seemed like he was trapped. “He works on cutting drills, but the vision piece, instinctively finding a hole to jump through, you can’t coach that,” Krumenacker said.
Asked to explain his elusiveness, McLune just laughed — again — and said, by way of explanation, “When I was younger and playing street football with my older brothers, it developed, and it carried over into pee-wee football. The moves are just instinctive. They’re not something I work on. I’m not thinking, ‘Oh I’m going to shake him,’ or ‘I’m going to run over him.’ It just happens. I’ll try whatever is the best move to get the most yards.”
The many moves of McLune were evident from the start. In last season’s opener against East Meadow, he rushed for 89 yards, then strung together three straight 200-yard games. “He did it right away. He was good from the get-go,” Krumenacker said. “It wasn’t like he had to get going. The kid’s a back and he can play.”
In fact, he is a rarity at the high school level — a back who only plays offense. “He’s drilled on defense and he’d be a very good defensive back,” Krumenacker said, “but the fact that you can keep your tailback off the field defensively is a big plus.”
Not that McLune is afraid of mixing it up. “I don’t mind lowering my shoulder,” he said, smiling.
Krumenacker will use this special talent on special teams to return punts and kickoffs and create open-field scenarios where McLune can be devastatingly effective — even if he doesn’t touch the ball. “He’s not a guy you want to kick to,” Krumenacker said. “He’s a threat on special teams just because he’s standing there. But you’ve got to kick it someplace so maybe on kickoffs you’ll kick it out of bounds. We’ll take it. We always try to flip the field.”
Good field position should be easy for the Dalers because McLune is surrounded by talent in the backfield. All-County fullback Corey Hill (493 yards) transferred from Plainedge and Kevin Eversley (461 yards) returns.
So might McLune have a better year but compile worse stats? “It’s a possibility,” Krumenacker admitted. “We want the other two to carry the ball some. I don’t know that anyone has three backs like we’ve got. But Jordan will certainly be the lead guy getting the most touches.”
It’s the right move.
McLune in 2015
yards per carry