Globe West Football Thursday

Ruffin lifts King Philip to fast start

Senior running back scores early and often

King Philip Regional’s Charles Ruffin was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.39 seconds.
King Philip Regional’s Charles Ruffin was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.39 seconds.
By Phil Perry
Globe Correspondent / September 22, 2011

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Charles Ruffin carefully flipped through the letters he has stuffed in a shoebox in his bedroom and reads off Division 1 schools like a roll call: Boston College, University of Connecticut, UCLA, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Villanova, Vanderbilt.

The King Philip Regional High senior cocaptain admits there is added pressure to play well this fall to impress those programs and earn a scholarship. But, he said, the pressure of playing for his future is nothing compared with what he puts on himself every week to help the Warriors - his “family’’ - win.

“I’m nervous because I care,’’ said Ruffin, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound fleet-footed running back. “I just want to win these games. The games come first.’’

There has been no reason to worry through the first two weeks of the season: The Warriors are 2-0 after matching 42-7 victories over Wayland and Medfield. Ruffin scampered for three touchdowns in the first half of each game, putting both contests out of reach early.

“You’ve got to gang-tackle him,’’ Wayland High coach Scott Parseghian said of Ruffin. “He doesn’t go down with just one person . . . Even when we had three or four guys on him, he moved the pile to get an extra yard or two.’’

Ruffin split the carries last season with Chris Cacciola, but the senior’s graduation has left the position all his, and because the Warriors have just three returning lettermen, there are high expectations for their workhorse back.

“I don’t think it’s too much to say,’’ said King Philip coach Brian Lee, “that we will go pretty much as Charles goes this year.’’

Last spring, Ruffin underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair his meniscus, and he says his knee still isn’t quite 100 percent, but he still welcomes the pressure.

“I love having that weight on my shoulders,’’ said Ruffin, who also returns punts for King Philip. “It just makes me strive to work harder.

“I know I’m not going to let my team down, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to win a game or get a first down.’’

So far, however, Ruffin hasn’t done it alone. The Warriors have leaned on their other two returning varsity players, senior linebacker Nick Lussier and senior guard Jason Litchfield. The team also has been pleasantly surprised by sophomore quarterback J.J. Dillon, who threw two touchdown passes against Wayland in his first varsity game.

Dillon “has stepped up a lot,’’ Ruffin said. “And he really knows what he’s doing. He always reminds everyone in the huddle what they’re doing right before they snap the ball. He’s been great.’’

As the Hockomock League race takes shape, the Warriors know that Ruffin will be a key cog. “If you’re in a tough situation, he’s the guy we turn to,’’ Litchfield said. “Our toss to the right is one of my favorites because I know if I get my block that he’s probably going to make it’’ to the end zone.

Ruffin’s athleticism makes him a threat every time he touches the ball. He placed second in the 300 meters at the New England high school meet last winter, and was recently timed in the 40-yard dash at a blazing 4.39 seconds.

Numbers aside, Ruffin has aced every test since his first varsity game in his freshman year, when he took a handoff around midfield and promptly scored a touchdown.

“For the longest time, the running joke was: Charles is as strong as he needs to be and he’s as fast as he needs to be,’’ Lee said. “How fast is Charles? Well, we don’t know. He’s just always faster than the guy chasing him, no matter who it is.’’

King Philip’s quick start has Ruffin and the inexperienced Warriors feeling confident as they kick off their league schedule with Sharon on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m confident,’’ Ruffin said. “These young guys are going to help us out a lot. I have no doubt in my mind about that. We’re just trying to be better than the last week every week.’’

New looks, faces at Rivers, Dexter

The Independent School League and Evergreen League kick off play this weekend, with a few new looks.

At Rivers School in Weston, former Waltham High coach Dan Keohane takes command of a Red Wing program that was 8-1 last season under Rich Fisher (now the receivers coach at Nebraska), with former Bentley coach Peter Yetten alongside as offensive coordinator. The offense will showcase multiple looks in Saturday’s opener against St. Paul’s.

At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, senior quarterback Shaquor Sandiford has the speed to allow Rivers to run the option, but his arm will help him find senior tight ends George Crowley and Nick Lund, a massive target at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds.

Abnar Logan will stand out on both sides of the ball this fall for Dexter School in Brookline. The linebacker already holds offers from Northwestern, Maryland, Boston College, and a host of others and he will be the biggest key to Dexter’s turning around its 2-6 record from last season.

Around the gridiron

Acton-Boxborough Regional High coach Bill Maver joked before the season that his team’s wing-T offense was “stuck in the 1950s.’’ The throwback style worked for the Colonials in their season-opening 33-8 win over Woburn, but was stuck in neutral last week against Chelmsford, as the Colonials fell, 26-0. Still, Maver is sticking with the system, which his players learn coming up in the local Pop Warner program. “When you have good players, you can run whatever offense you want,’’ he said . . . Though Needham fell to Mansfield, 36-30, last week, Rockets senior quarterback Drew Burnett (16 of 32 passing, 326 yards, 4 touchdowns) and senior receiver Mark Riley (6 catches, 102 yards, 2 touchdowns) proved that they can hang with one of the state’s best offensive teams.

Phil Perry can be reached at paperry27@

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