Kelly is all-pur­pose jewel for Sun Val­ley

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - By Matt Smith matt­smith@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @DTMat­tSmith on Twit­ter

AS­TON » You wouldn’t know by watch­ing him daz­zle on a foot­ball field every week that Julz Kelly is a quiet kid who would rather not talk about him­self.

“He’s pretty hum­bled,” said Sun Val­ley coach Greg “Bubba” Bern­hardt. “But the sky’s the limit with Julz.”

Ju­lian “Julz” Kelly has made a ma­jor im­pact in his first full sea­son of var­sity foot­ball. The all-pur­pose ju­nior has been a hu­man high­light reel.

“He’s an all-around great foot­ball player,” Bern­hardt said. “He’s one of the bet­ter kids that I have seen. He just does it all.”

That’s high praise com­ing from Bern­hardt, who coached sev­eral All-Del­cos dur­ing his ten­ure at Bon­ner & Pren­der­gast. But Kelly could be one of those once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion tal­ents.

Last week, he torched Oc­torara with four touch­down runs and com­piled 243 yards of to­tal of­fense. He had seven car­ries for 153 yards and added five catches for 91 yards.

Kelly is a per­fect com­ple­ment to lead­ing rusher and se­nior Caliph Jones, who has been a star on his own this year. Jones has rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the last four games for the Van­guards (4-3), who travel to West Ch­ester Rustin (4-4) for a 1 o’clock kick­off Satur­day. Jones en­ters the week as the fifth-lead­ing rusher in Delaware County with 707 yards and eight touch­downs.

Kelly, who lines up as a wild­cat quar­ter­back, run­ning back and wide re­ceiver, is sixth in Delco in both re­ceiv­ing yardage (419) and re­cep­tions (23). As a run­ner, he’s av­er­ag­ing 10.2 yards per carry. He also plays safety and re­turns kick and punts.

Dif­fi­cult as it may seem to­day, Kelly was a rel­a­tive un­known com­ing into the sea­son. Dur­ing pre­sea­son camp in Au­gust, Bern­hardt said Kelly would be a fac­tor on of­fense, de­fense and spe­cial teams. But did any­one ex­pect 10 touch­downs, in­clud­ing seven by way of run and one kick re­turn?

“I’m not sur­prised, but he has im­proved a lot since last year,” Jones said. “I knew he had it in him. There’s noth­ing that ever sur­prises me about Julz.”

Kelly ad­mit­ted he had plenty to prove com­ing into his ju­nior cam­paign. An in­jury forced him to miss valu­able play­ing time a year ago. He con­trib­uted spar­ingly on of­fense and spe­cial teams when he wasn’t hurt.

“I knew there was some­thing I had to show them be­cause they didn’t get to see a lot of me last year,” Kelly said. ”I broke my hand. I started the last four games, but I didn’t play much.”

Kelly’s best at­tributes, he said, are his speed and stut­ter­step. A quick glance at his Hudl. com high­lights would prove him cor­rect.

“Right now, I think, he just has to re­al­ize how good he is,” Bern­hardt said. “Funny story. It was last week’s game. I for­get what the sit­u­a­tion was, but we had to punt. We’ve been hav­ing trou­ble with our punt­ing this year. Julz was just in­volved in a play heav­ily — he’s not on the punt team nor­mally. This time I told him to come out. I said, ‘Julz, we need you to go in there and punt.’ He said, ‘I don’t want to mess it up, Coach.’ I said to him, ‘You’re not go­ing to mess any­thing up.’

“Now he’s go­ing punter this week.”

And so, the leg­end Kelly grows ...

“Even in prac­tice you’ll look around and see him do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, like, did he just do that?” Bern­hardt said. “It’s our job to fig­ure out how to put him in new spots. If you’re to be of our Julz good, teams are go­ing to know about you. We think we have a healthy com­bi­na­tion, with Julz and Caliph. We have other guys step­ping up as well.”

First-year start­ing quar­ter­back An­thony El­lis has thrived in re­cent weeks. In the rout of Oc­torara last Fri­day, El­lis com­pleted 12 of 17 pass at­tempts for 200 yards and a score. El­lis is fifth in Delco with 857 pass­ing yards. The of­fen­sive line is an­chored by se­nior Shane Luedtke. James Gines, who leads the team with 25 re­cep­tions, has been a stal­wart at tight end and line­backer. Sun Val­ley is av­er­ag­ing a healthy 339 yards of to­tal of­fense through the first seven weeks of the sea­son.

“We’re all con­fi­dent,” Jones said. “We’re not wor­ried about stats, we’re just wor­ried about do­ing our as­sign­ments and win­ning the games.”

The next two weeks are a lit­mus test for the Van­guards, who oc­cupy 10th place in the District 1 Class 5A standings. The top 16 teams qual­ify for the play­offs next month.

On deck is Rustin and Unionville (7-0), which is the top team in Class 5A.

“The Ches-Mont is never easy,” Jones said. “We just have to stay fo­cused and be­lieve in our­selves.”

In a team meet­ing this week, Bern­hardt im­plored his play­ers to do bet­ter. The Van­guards are two weeks re­moved from an em­bar­rass­ing, 55-13 de­feat to Ox­ford, a game in which “we didn’t show up for,” Bern­hardt said.

“It’s time for us to take the next step,” he said. “We have two great chal­lenges these next two weeks with Rustin and Unionville, and I think we’re ca­pa­ble of play­ing with both of them.”

MICHAEL REEVES — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Sun Val­ley run­ning back Caliph Jones has been a per­fect com­ple­ment, or vice-versa, to team­mate Julz Kelly.

MICHAEL REEVES — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Sun Val­ley’s Julz Kelly, right, and Do­minic El­lis cel­e­brate Kelly’s fourth quar­ter TD dur­ing a Van­guards vic­tory over Ken­nett ear­lier this sea­son.

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