Sophomore a big-play guy for Albion

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Albion running back Clinton Orr is a difficult player to game plan against for any opponent during a week of practice and video study.

The 5-11, 180-pound sophomore has been very productive in Albion’s three games this season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 112.3 yards per game. He has netted 337 yards rushing on 61 carries and has visited the end zone on five occasions.

“He’s real special. He’s a great player, but also a great young man. He’s a big factor for us on offense,” said Craig Rundle, now in his 14th season as Albion’s head coach. “He’s a big-play guy. Every time he touches the ball, he’s got a chance to go the distance. As a return guy, running the ball or catching the ball, he’s a threat any time the ball is in his hands. I think that’s important.

“He’s got great speed and is real elusive,” Rundle continued. “He’s a hard guy to get a hit on. He makes people miss and even if you don’t block them all, he can make one or two guys miss and has enough speed to outrun the rest.”

Orr, this week’s Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association offensive player of the week, gained 168 yards on 25 carries and helped Albion get a 35-10 win over Greenville. Orr scored four touchdowns and had a 37-yard kickoff return.

“He made some big plays for us,” said Rundle. “The first time we had the ball, he broke about a 40-yarder for a touchdown and got us off to a quick start.

“He had an even better game. He had an over 70-yard run for a touchdown called back, so he had a great game,” he continued. “It’s more unusual for him not to have 100 yards than it is for him to go over 100 yards. He’s had some big games, just in probably the last seven or eight games he’s played. He’s gone over 100 yards, I think, all but one time.”

While he is only a sophomore, Orr is a leader for the Britons’ offense.

“Guys look to him to make plays, so it’s important for him to do the things he’s capable of and it also helps the quarterback in terms of the passing game,” said Rundle. “People have to game-plan for Clinton and stop him and that frees up a little bit for some of the things we’d like to do throwing the ball.”

Though there was a learning curve when he entered Albion’s locker room a little more than a year ago, Orr led the team with 767 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 106 carries.

He averaged 7.2 yards per rush and 85.2 yards per game.

Orr not only ran the ball effectively, but also was a solid contributor on special teams. He fielded 18 kickoffs and returned them for 435 yards, including a long return of 46 yards.

“He’s really got a high IQ for football. He caught on really quickly,” said Rundle. “I think that process last year, where a lot of running backs have trouble coming from high school into college, picking up pass protections is probably the toughest thing and he picked up those things really quickly. His offense in high school is different from what we run and he just adapted extremely quickly.”

With Orr having two-plus years of eligibility remaining, Rundle does not see the young back slowing down any time soon.

“I think he’s going to continue to develop,” he concluded. “He’s a hard worker and is really a competitive young man. He wants to be even better, so he’s going to push himself to get better and he gets better every week that he plays. Before he gets out of here, I think he’s going to be or has the chance to be the best running back in Division III.”

News and Notes

Ohio Northern defensive back Justin Henck had quite a day in the Polar Bears’ 34-10 win against Otterbein last weekend. Henck, a senior, returned two interceptions for touchdowns, the first going for 70 yards and the second 65 yards. He added four total tackles en route to being the Ohio Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week.

Denison sophomore running back Sam Fioroni rushed for 200 yards, a career high, on 22 carries in the Big Red’s 31-24 come-from-behind victory over Hiram in overtime. His 13-yard touchdown run on the second play of the overtime session earned the win for Denison.

Quarterback Max Paulus threw for a career-best 355 yards and has the Big Red out to its first 3-0 start since the 1990 season.

Thomas More freshman running back Domonique Hayden earned Presidents’ Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors after he accounted for 207 yards of total offense, including 180 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. He broke two touchdowns of 20 yards or more and caught two passes for 27 yards against Geneva.

Despite leaving the game early with an injury, Chicago junior running back Francis Adarkwa carried the ball 21 times for 130 yards in a 31-20 setback against Elmhurst. He had a two-yard run and a 57-yard scamper on his last play of the game. He was honored as the University Athletic Association’s Offensive Athlete of the Week for his efforts.

Great Lakes Region Teams in D3football.com’s Top 25 Poll This Week
No. 2-Mount Union (OAC)-No change following a 51-7 win at John Carroll
No. 6-Wittenberg (NCAC)-No change after a 37-7 home victory over Washington U.
No. 10-Ohio Northern (OAC)-Up one spot following a 34-10 win over previously ranked Otterbein
No. 12-Thomas More (PAC)-No change after a 36-20 victory at Geneva
No. 14-Trine (MIAA)-Up three spots following a 35-14 win at UW-River Falls
No. 20-Wabash (NCAC)-Up two spots after a 45-21 victory at Ohio Wesleyan
Others Receiving Votes: Otterbein (OAC), Case Western Reserve (UAA), Washington and Jefferson (PAC), Baldwin-Wallace (OAC)

Games of the Week
Wittenberg (3-0, 1-0 NCAC) at Allegheny (2-0, 0-0), Saturday, 12 p.m.:
There is nothing the Allegheny Gators have been looking forward to more than starting their conference schedule of games and they will get the defending champions to get things underway. Allegheny has scored 62 points in two games and are outgaining its opponents by 105.0 yards per game.

Washington and Jefferson (1-1, 1-0 PAC) at Thomas More (2-0, 0-0), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: While it is only September, it is never too early to be thinking about conference races and the Presidents’ Athletic Conference championship has been decided in this game over the last three seasons. With Grove City off to a 2-1 start and 1-0 in the conference and Waynesburg showing promise, the loser of this game might need help to get back into the title hunt.

Joe Sager

Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.

2012-14 columnist: Brian Lester
2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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