Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Soul’s Derrick Ross rushing his way to mvp honors

By Vaughn Johnson
Special to philadelphiasoul.com
 PHILADELPHIA (June 5, 2012) – Philadelphia Soul’s Derrick Ross has created a new standard for the Arena Football fullback.  Through one and a half seasons in the Arena Football League, Ross has raised the bar for fullbacks in a league where they are usually an afterthought.  During the Soul’s 79-48 win over the Orlando Predators Saturday night, Ross set the bar even higher.
Ross, who is a 2012 National Guard MVP of the Year and All-Arena candidate, set single-game franchise records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.  On nine carries, he broke the franchise record, which he set himself earlier in the season, with 84 yards on the ground.  His five rushing touchdowns were not only a franchise record, but also the most any player has scored in the AFL this season.
His 84-yard performance also helped Ross become the 10th player in AFL history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau for a career. By accomplishing the feat in only 29 games, he became the fastest in League history to reach the mark.
“Anytime you break a record it feels good,” Ross said after the game.
Breaking records has become a bit “old hat” for Ross, who already owns the league record for rushing yards in a single season (622), which he set in his rookie season.
Ross went in to Saturday’s game leading the League with 341 yards on the season.  After his 84-yard performance against the Predators his total in 2012 is now 425.
At his current pace, the MVP candidate is set to break his league single-season mark for a consecutive year. He only needs 198 more yards to set that particular bar even higher.
He is also 19 rushing scores away from breaking the all-time single season mark of 41, three more scores away from sole possession of 10th place in league history with 65, and needs 66 more carries to break another one of his own single-season records of 167.
“He is the best pure running back I’ve seen playing or coaching in Arena Football,” Philadelphia Soul assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Clint Dolezel said.  “He is as good as he wants to be and if he wants to play this game for a long time he’ll smash every record and no one will probably touch them for many, many years to come.”
Dolezel introduced Ross to the indoor game when he coached the San Angleo Stampede Express of the Indoor Football League. When Dolezel made the jump back into the AFL, as head coach of the Dallas Vigilantes, he brought Ross with him. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I think a lot of Derrick Ross,” Dolezel said.  “I’ve been with him three years and he’s touched the ball more than any running back maybe combined since I’ve been playing or coaching Arena Football.”
Despite all of his individual accolades, Ross remained humble after the game Saturday and gave all the praise to his teammates and coaching staff for his success.
“It was great and I thank my offensive line [Christian Johnson, Brennen Carvalho, Zipp Duncan and Devin Clark] and the play calling by [offensive coordinator] Clint Dolezel,” Ross said. “He trusts me and I trust him.  It was just a great game all around.”
Ross was a major part in what was a big night offensively for the Soul overall.
The team’s 79-point game was the fourth time this season they have scored over 70 points, and was one point shy of scoring 80 for the third time this season.
Needless to say, the Soul offense, led by Ross and quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, found a rhythm that the Predators could not get them out of.
“We’ll be tough to stop if we get in the rhythm,” the 2011 All-Arena fullback said. “Once we get everybody firing on all cylinders it’s tough to stop because you have everyone dedicated to trying to win the game and do whatever it takes.”
        ·                     Ross needs three more rushing scores for sole possession of No. 10 in League history with 65.
        ·                     Needs 66 more carries for the single-season mark in league history.
        ·                     Needs 198 yards to break his own single-season record for yards in a season.
·                     Needs 19 more rushing touchdowns to break the league single-season mark.
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