NEW PORT RICHEY
Coaches, in general, hate comparisons. Most would rather color-code their team's insurance paperwork than weigh the merits or deficiencies of a current player against a former one. To them, it's often a no-win situation. To the media, it's part of a day's work. We love to stack the names and numbers against each other, exposing contrasts and revealing similarities. Which brings us to former Ridgewood ball-carrying workhorse Byronell Arline and his successor, Rams senior Sterling Ross. Physically, Arline — the county's all-time rushing leader — was far more imposing. Statistically, however, Ross is on track to nearly match Arline's 2007 rushing totals (2,107 yards) and has far better numbers through the first two games. One was a beast. The other possesses a burst. Makes for an intriguing tale of the tape. So here goes.
Arline: 6 feet, 220 or 230 pounds
Ross: 5-10, 178
Senior-year stats (through two games)*
Arline: 30 carries, 278 yards, two TDs^
Ross: 39 carries, 397 yards, five TDs
* In both seasons, Ridgewood opened with Hudson and Wiregrass Ranch
^ Rams coach Chris Taylor points out Arline was nagged by a turf toe injury early in the '07 season and was limited to 15 carries in each of his first two games. He had no fewer than 19 in each of the Rams' other nine contests.
Arline: At 220-230 pounds, Arline essentially was a wrecking ball; if he didn't beat you up, he'd eventually beat you down. He dropped a few pounds as a senior and developed some shiftiness but remained a bruiser at his core.
Ross: On a good day, Ross acknowledges, he might possess 4.5 speed. But he clearly hits the hole with more burst. "It's a little different when you've got a big back coming through the hole that you can square up on, or you've got a running back that comes through the hole and you're getting there late," Taylor said.
Arline: Operated in 2007 behind an interior front featuring four seniors and a junior, not to mention a veteran fullback in Barry Johnsonbaugh.
Ross: Works behind a line consisting of two sophomores on the right side, two juniors on the left and a senior at center. "We're a newfound offensive line," Taylor said, "but our expectations haven't changed and our ability hasn't changed much."
Arline: We know former Mitchell quarterback Tate Humphrey, arguably the most versatile player in that school's brief history, is Arline's cousin.
Ross: According to Ross, his dad, Rickey, was a running back with 4.25 speed at Lockhart (Texas) High. Nicknamed "Gunpowder," Rickey was destined for a college career before a devastating knee injury, his son said.
Arline: Toughness, for one, as well as a team-first attitude that seemed to endear him to the other Rams.
Ross: Give us a few more games on this one. "We haven't found out how tough Sterling is yet," Taylor said. "I think we're going to find that out on Friday (against Central). … He's run hard, but he's going to go against a team Friday night that's very physical, and they're going to try to shut him down."