MacArthur’s Ryan Isom is one of those elusive running backs you hear about.
Occasionally he breaks off a long run, but it’s more impressive when he seems to be cornered by oncoming tacklers and still manages to get away. He’s shifty, just not in a bad way.
On his slithery speed an ability alone, the senior is quite a weapon. Operating behind a Generals offensive line that averages 253 pounds a man, Isom is a force to be reckoned with. He showed that on Saturday against Mepham, rushing for 150 yards with 6- and 1-yard touchdown runs on 21 carries as host MacArthur scored the first 33 points and coasted to a 33-14 Nassau Conference II victory.
"We knew when he scored three touchdowns in a game last season, that he would come into his own, that he was a kid you couldn’t sleep on," Generals coach Bobby Fehrenbach said. "And this season our offensive line might be the biggest we’ve had since I’ve been here. That line is going to carry us and make everything possible."
Isom stepped into the enormous shoes of 2019 Newsday All-Long Island selection Hugh Kelleher, who had a battering-ram style and could carry the ball 30 to 40 times a game. But Isom said he didn’t feel intimidated at taking on the role of featured back.
"[Kelleher] was a beast, a great player," he said. "But I’m my own player, and I want to show people what I can do . . . I run hard, I find holes, and I try to get to the end zone. He did things his way and I am doing things mine."
Isom took the second MacArthur snap 46 yards on a sweep for a score before it was called back on a penalty. The Generals (2-0) were unfazed. They marched in and finished with a 12-yard touchdown run by James Napoli.
"It was big that we didn’t hang our heads and kept going for a good start," Fehrenbach said.
Napoli also had a good day rushing behind Andrew Calderon, James Clarkson, Greg Milau, Anthony Tufano and Matt Cacace. He had seven carries for 60 yards and scored on the 12-yard run and a 38-yarder in the third quarter to make it 33-0.
Still, no one got louder cheers than kicker Alyssa Accordino, who missed the Generals’ first game to play for the girls soccer team. She went 3-for-5 on extra points.
If there was a turning point in the game it came late in the second quarter. MacArthur was up 12-0 and Mepham (1-1) went to a no-huddle offense to try to wear down the Generals’ big linemen. In MacArthur territory, Billy Kender was picked off by Calderon, who returned it to the Pirates’ 25-yard line. Isom scored from the 6 on the final play of the half.
"It’s a huge swing," Fehrenbach said. "It could have been 12-7, but instead it was 19-0."
Calderon, who returned a blocked kick for a touchdown a week ago against South Side, said, "that interception was a perfect read . . . and we’re the kind of team that takes advantages of extra opportunities."
In the fourth quarter, Kender ran for a 5-yard touchdown and Nick Honerkamp hit Dom Novello for a 5-yard TD pass. Novello also had a fumble recovery for Mepham.
"The way we run the ball and the way we hit, I see no reason this team shouldn’t win the county title," Napoli said. "Last year we came up one win short. We’re here to finish the job this time."