LOSING THREE out of four games with four consecutive, sub-60-yard-rushing performances wasn't exactly how Kharee Ruley saw things materializing at West Catholic.
Digesting new plays, adjusting to a new system and acclimating to an expanded role weighed heavily on his slender 5-7, 155-pound frame.
So, late at night, before he closed his eyes on 67th Street and Haverford Avenue, Ruley, our latest Player of the Week, would find a measure of peace on his keyboard.
"Before I went to bed, I'd do pushups and play the piano," he said. "I would come home sore and beat up and I'd maybe just play for 10 or 15 minutes. It would just calm me down, because I might have been angry after a loss or angry about a play I missed - should have made a tackle, hit the hole harder or should have cut it back. Then, I'd just play the piano, and it would take everything off my mind."
The senior do-it-all for the Burrs was once a largely unheralded running back at Horace Furness, which no longer fields a team after going 0-5 in Public League AAAA play last season and 1-10 overall. Ruley rushed for 1,056 yards last year and had a school-record 258 yards against Olney, the team's lone win.
Furness had cooperative agreements with Franklin Learning Center and Palumbo, where Ruley attended school. Palumbo, now coached by Scott Pitzner, started a new program this season, but Ruley transferred, in part, to better his chances of catching collegiate eyes.
"I supported the move, said former Furness coach Anthony Pastore, still a school police officer at Palumbo. "We spoke about it, and I supported the move, because he definitely deserves to be seen at a bigger program for the next level, because I really think he can play at that next level. Would we still love to have him here at Palumbo? Of course, but I think the kid's future is more important than any particular program."
Last week, Ruley busted out with 201 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the Burrs' 40-21 win over Lansdale Catholic.
Compare that with 15 yards on six carries the previous week and 115 on 27 carries to that point, and Ruley can safely claim progress.
"I can tell I'm getting used to the offense, because my games have improved every week," he said. "We're very dynamic, and they use me at a bunch of different positions. So, I have a lot to remember since I play both ways, and sometimes I'm out at wideout."
Add return duties to the mix - along with honors trigonometry - and perhaps you see why he tickles the keys to clear his mind.
"It's kind of like I freestyle," Ruley said. "I used to take lessons, but then I fell off because of football. Then, I just started playing on my own . . . I wouldn't say I'm good. I just make stuff up from my mind. If I hear a nice tune that I like, I'll just add on to that."
Football is a passion, but school always comes first for Ruley, who earned a 3.76 GPA as a freshman and reports improvements each year since.
Evidently, with or without the game, he apparently will arrive on a college campus soon. So, when asked whether he still wanted to play in college, naturally, he asked, "football or the piano?"
How about both?
"Oh, yeah, I'm bringing the keyboard with me to college," he laughed. "If I can't get a scholarship to play in college, I'm pretty sure I have the academics for it, and then I can try to just walk-on."
Others considered: Olney Charter senior running back Sultan Johns rushed for 195 yards and two scores on 23 carries and added 41 yards on three catches in a 30-14 win against Lincoln . . . La Salle senior back Jordan Meachum had 123 yards on only 13 carries (9.5 per) in the Explorers' 31-20 win against McDonogh (Md.) . . . Senior stud back Dimetri Kelly rolled on Episcopal Academy for 163 yards and four scores on 23 carries in Roman's 48-7 triumph . . . All-purpose machine Collin DiGalbo had 125 yards rushing and 100 passing in Bonner-Prendergast's 25-7 chopping of Archbishop Carroll . . . Jarrett McClenton went for 202 yards and two scores on 17 carries (11.9 per) in Archbishop Wood's 47-14 throttling of Archbishop Ryan . . . Freshman back Isaiah Jones had 152 yards and two tallies on 15 totes in Germantown Academy's 27-13 win against Blair Academy (N.J.).
Passing along some high school football notes . . .
Palumbo earned its first varsity win in program history, a 14-8 triple-overtime triumph against Kensington. Senior Dontez Jolly scored the 10-yard, walkoff winner after Kensington failed to tally . . . La Salle senior Jimmy Herron secured the city record for career touchdown catches with a 33-yard grab from Kyle Shurmur against McDonogh last week. Two weeks earlier, Herron set the Catholic League's career mark with 28. No. 29 broke Brad Wilson's 2010 mark at Delaware Valley. The PCL previous recordholder was Archbishop Wood's Chris Lorditch, who notched his 27th in 2006 . . . West Catholic's victory against Lansdale Catholic was the Burrs' 50th consecutive win vs. a league opponent (does not count interdivision games) dating back to the 2006 season, according to TedSilary.com . . . Ben Franklin senior Kevin Caldwell is the first QB to throw 20 touchdowns within the first five games of a season. Caldwell had three air strikes in a blowout win against King last week.
Aaron Carter's top 10 city football teams
1. Archbishop Wood 5-0
2. St. Joseph's Prep 1-3
3. Imhotep 4-1
4. La Salle 4-1
5. Haverford School 3-1
6. Roman Catholic 3-2
7. Father Judge 3-2
8. Ben Franklin 5-0
9. Springside Chestnut Hill 5-0
10. Bonner-Prendergast 5-0
Also considered: Del-Val, Malvern Prep, Prep Charter, Simon Gratz, West Catholic.
On Twitter: @AceCarterDN