By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T
When the Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers were playing bombs away with the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, they might have been trying to imitate Malvern Prep senior Joe Price.
Two days earlier, Price had been the recipient of two long touchdown passes from senior quarterback Billy Conners. When the game was over, the Friars had opened the season with a resounding 47-21 victory over visiting La Salle.
“It was definitely a great way to start the year,” said Price. “We were picked by some of the newspapers to win by five or six points. We wanted to make an impression.”
Consider La Salle impressed.
The Explorers, always a team that poses a challenge, fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter thanks to two touchdown runs by Neil Willis and a 55-yard connection from Conners to Price down the right sideline.
The touchdown was the longest of Conners’ and Price’s respective careers.
“He put it up there, and I was able to get good position and bring it in,” said Price. “After that, I just kept running toward the end zone.”
Sandwiched around a pair of Drew Loughery-to-Connor Hoffman touchdown passes by La Salle was Price’s second TD snare, this one for 45 yards straight down the middle of the field, giving Malvern a comfortable 35-14 halftime lead.
While not quite as long, Price’s second touchdown was similar to his first, leaving one to wonder what exactly a receiver thinks when he is running with the ball while being chased by desperate defenders.
“I wasn’t thinking,” said Price, smiling. “I was just running as fast as I could.”
Price finished with four catches for 117 yards. Conners, who replaced graduated standout Ryan Nassib and is headed to Duke University to play lacrosse, was outstanding in his debut. He completed nine of 11 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns, the other going to James Connelly. For good measure, Conners also scored on two short runs in the second half.
“He has a great game,” said Price. “He was in control of things. I think the whole team played really well, especially considering this was our first game.”
Price claimed his career-best performance wasn’t actually meant as a birthday present for his father, but he jokingly said he could take it as such if he wants.
An obviously reflective sort, Price said the gift of his family – mom Joan Marie, dad Joe and sisters Meghan and Colleen – supersedes all of his athletic talent.
“They all support me, and I support them,” said Price. “I’m really fortunate to come from a good, loving family.”
When the football season ends in late November, the likeable Price will start preparing for baseball. A fireball hurler who reportedly has hit 90 miles per hour, Price has garnered some collegiate interest regarding his pitching prowess.
However, the parishioner from St. John Neumann in Bryn Mawr admitted that, at this stage of his life, he would prefer to play football in college, although it would be “awesome” to do both. Several schools have already expressed an interest in having him continue his football career at their institutions. Of course, a scholarship offer would be terrific.
“During football that is all I can think about, along with keeping my grades up,” he said. “When I come home, I’m usually pretty drained. There’s only so much time, so I try and take advantage of any free time I have during the day.”
Whatever the game plan, it seems to be working out quite nicely.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.