Running to contact

JFK’s Boyd bangs, bashes and bumps when running the football

Tribune Chronicle file / R. Michael Semple
John F. Kennedy running back Evan Boyd carries the ball in a game this season against Steubenville Catholic Central. Boyd and the Eagles play in a Division VII state semifinal Saturday night at New Philadelphia against Canal Winchester Harvest Prep.

Tribune Chronicle file / R. Michael Semple John F. Kennedy running back Evan Boyd carries the ball in a game this season against Steubenville Catholic Central. Boyd and the Eagles play in a Division VII state semifinal Saturday night at New Philadelphia against Canal Winchester Harvest Prep.

If you’re an opposing defensive player going up against the John F. Kennedy offense, watch out, or else you might just get run over. The Eagles’ leading rusher, senior Evan Boyd, is known to plow a few guys over.

And while Boyd may only be listed at six-foot, 185 pounds, you’d never know it by the way he plays the game of football. In fact, Boyd plays like a 6-2, 250 pound bruiser, just like the ones he admired as a kid.

“I liked Le’Veon Bell a lot, watching him during college (at Michigan State),” Boyd said. “Jerome Bettis, I didn’t grow up watching him, but great backs like him, all of those style of guys that lower their head and just find extra yardage and run guys over.”

Boyd, who said that he’s been inviting contact and hard hits since his peewee football days, is the leading bell cow for a run-first Kennedy offense. Boyd rushed for over 1,200 yards last year and has gone beyond that this year, as his violent running style, combined with the Eagles’ talented offensive line, have paved the way for a successful 12-1 campaign, thus far.

Kennedy, which surprisingly blew out the No. 1-seeded Norwalk St. Paul Flyers, 48-13, in the Division VII, Region 25 championship game a week ago, will have a greater challenge Saturday night. The Eagles will take on the Canal Winchester Harvest Prep Warriors in a Division VII state semifinal, which will be at New Philadelphia’s Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium.

Hayes, the legendary Ohio State football coach, was known for his “three yards and a cloud of dust” offensive approach, and if Hayes were still around today, he’d certainly appreciate a back like Boyd. As for Harvest Prep, Boyd says he doesn’t know much about them, other than what he’s seen on film.

Should Boyd and his teammates succeed this week against Harvest Prep, and then again next week in the state final, however, they’ll be state champions. The thought has certainly crossed Boyd’s mind, and he knows how much it would mean to everyone involved.

“It would mean a lot, especially for this school and for our team, representing John F. Kennedy. We haven’t had a state championship for awhile, since ’91 I think,” Boyd said, laughing. “So yeah, it would mean a lot for everybody around this area and the community, since we’re the only ones left.”

In fact, Boyd has been embraced by his Kennedy teammates since joining the team prior to his junior year, after moving back home from the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area, where he had lived from seventh grade through tenth grade.

The move has allowed Boyd to feel right at home as a power back, as he says that the Myrtle Beach area is a faster-paced style of game and not as football-centric as the Mahoning Valley.

“Kennedy brought me in and made me feel like I belong there, it just made a nice fit,” Boyd said. “Coach (Jeff) Bayuk has helped me a lot, especially with football and academics-wise. These coaches are probably some of the best coaches I’ve had. They know what they’re talking about, and they are determined to win.”

If Saturday’s game against Harvest Prep is anything like Kennedy’s recent playoff games, the Warriors’ defense might have to stock up on ice and bandages, once Boyd’s done with them.

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