Zeb Rubaker

The Big Reds' Zeb Rubaker looks for running room against Maplewood during Friday's game in West Middlesex.

WEST MIDDLESEX – The Maplewood one-man show myth is just that – a misrepresentation of facts.

While dynamic playmaker JD McFadden is the catalyst of all Crawford County clubs, he has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Witness the Tigers’ 39-12 mauling of West Middlesex in a District 10 region crossover contest Friday night.

The 6-foot, 180-pound McFadden manufactured 270 total yards – including 10- and 56-yard scoring sprints – as Maplewood moved to 3-0. However his kid brother, Jesse, contributed 70 yards receiving, 28 rushing, and  a 56-yard Pick-Six. Also, Kaleb Donor donated a 95-yard run, part of his 133-yard performance.

In all, Maplewood mustered 424 total yards in dominating the defending D-10 Class 1A runner-up.

“We have a lot of good athletes, we have a lot of guys that can play. It’s great that people know JD, but we have other guys that can get it done,” assessed 8th-year Tigers’ taskmaster Bryan Borkovich. “ ... Kaleb can run ... and Jesse’s a great player –everyone knows about JD, but Jesse’s great ... 

“We have about six or eight kids like that – they’re just all about it, all the time, and they’re excited,” Borkovich added. “I’m glad they’re doin’ the best they can, and getting results.”

While the Tigers never trailed, Middlesex moved within 14-6 at the half and 14-12 midway through the 3rd period.

Big Reds’ righty quarterback Ty Tate rolled right and collaborated with Alex Rea for a 12-yard TD toss with 5:36 remaining in the 3rd quarter, moving Middlesex within a 2-point PAT, though that subsequently failed. But on Maplewood’s ensuing initial play from scrimmage, JD McFadden optioned for his 56-yarder. Any Middlesex momentum evaporated in 19 seconds as Maplewood’s margin increased to 20-12.

Jesse McFadden and Donor dented the scoreboard with their own splash plays during the final frame.

“My brother is s-o-o-o fast and will catch any ball you throw to him ... you’ve got Kaleb Donor, he’s probably one of the quickest backs in D-10 ... and Clay Cox out there as a wide receiver ... you’ve got Jason McFadden, my cousin, as a tight end he can catch a ball ... and on defense we’ve got Bryan Kelly ... he’s just a freakin’ animal,” summarized an admiring JD McFadden. 

“To be a good quarterback like he is, it’s not just athleticism; it’s the smarts, too,” Middlesex mentor Mark Means mused regarding McFadden. “He kind’ve knows when he wants to pull it and when he doesn’t want to pull it, or when makin’ throws he knows where he wants to go with it. And if not, he’s gonna tuck it and run. So I think there’s a couple things there that contributes to his success.

“Obviously, their running back (Donor, who scored from 8 yards out in the 1st frame, capping a 10-play, 88-yard, 3 1/2-minute drive), he’s quick, he’s got speed and he’s durable, too. He’s a little guy, but his heart’s really big, so I admire that,” Means praised. “So you’ve got a dual-threat there with the read option (with JD McFadden). And then Jesse McFadden in the slot position. Just throwin’ a bubble screen to him he can get movin’. He’s quick, tries to hit the seams real fast. So you’ve got a lot to cover.

“And their line’s real good. They get off the line, they’re fast, they’re physical. So it’s, overall, a really good team,” Means added. “The thing for them is, obviously, the same with us – tryin’ to stay healthy. If they can do that, they probably can make a good run. But they’ve definitely got the team, they’ve got the speed, I think they’ve got the talent ... very well-coached team.

“It’s just unfortunate we came up on the short end. Whether we have guys in or not, it shouldn’t matter. We’ve gotta step up, and I think our kids did that. I was proud of them,” Means emphasized.

The Big Reds rallied from a 14-0 1st-half hole as Ian Smith’s 2-yard run capped a 7-play, 48-yard, 3-minute, 38-second drive with just 58 ticks to play in the 1st half.

Respectively, Borkovich said of Middlesex (2-1), “They were a great team last year; they’re a great team this year. They have some good players, and they play hard. We knew it was gonna be a test for us. I was glad – our kids kind’ve played a little soft in the first half – but came out in the second half and played much better.”

Already without two concussed linemen – Josh Bender and Noah Weiser – West Middlesex lost two-way starter Connor Haddon approximately 2 1/2 minutes into the contest. He sustained what appeared to be a serious right knee injury.

“I learned that there are always things that we’ve gotta work on and clean up. We were a little sloppy here and there. But, then again, I look at it and I think’ You know what? We’ve got a bunch of guys that’re plugged in different spots they’ve never played before.’

“I learned that we have a little bit of fight in us, and we don’t quit. And that’s the number one thing, that’s all I can ask as a coach, is who’s gonna step up and give me their best effort. And I think they did that (Friday) night.”

Though only 3 games into the season, Borkovich’s bunch may be bound for a special season. Eleven seniors lead a 30-player roster coming off a 6-win season.

“This has been a great group – always – and that sophomore group’s a strong group. So those guys, combined, really get it done for us. Talent-wise, this is our best club, so we’re tryin’ to make the most of it and push the kids as much as possible, and they’re responding well,” Borkovich assessed. “We’ve just have to make sure we’re ready to go as we wind down the season here.”

Or as mainstay McFadden succinctly summarized, “Our goal right now is to win the region, and then go from there.”


MAPLEWOOD    7   7   6   19   39

MIDDLESEX      0   6   6   0    12

Scoring plays

M — Donor, 8 run (Palmiero kick)

M — JD McFadden, 10 run (Palmiero kick)

WM — Smith, 2 run (kick failed)

WM — Rea, 12 pass from Tate (run failed)

M — JD McFadden, 56 run (kick failed)

M — Jesse McFadden, 56 interception return (kick failed)

M — Butryn, 10 pass from JD McFadden (Palmiero kick)

M — Donor, 95 run (kick failed)

Team stats


14     First downs             13

323     Rushing yards         180

101     Passing yards           27

16-8-0     Att-comp-int          13-3-2

424     Total yards             207

2-1     Fumbles-lost            0-0

8-54      Penalties-yards lost     5-45

Individual stats

Rushing: MAPLEWOOD –– JD. McFadden 10-168, Donor 10-133, Jesse McFadden 3-28, team 1-(-7); WEST MIDDLESEX — Smith 17-74,  Rubaker 16-61, Davis 5-21, Rea 2-14, Tate 8-10.

Passing: MAPLEWOOD — JD McFadden 16-8-0, 101; WEST MIDDLESEX — Tate 13-3-2, 27.

Receiving: MAPLEWOOD — Jesse McFadden 5-67, Cox 2-21, Butryn 1-10; WEST MIDDLESEX — Rea 1-12, Lowe 1-10, O’Neill 1-5.

Recommended for you