While the Pittsford Panthers are 5-0 and a clear contender for the Section V Class AA football championship, they will play at least the next two games without one of the area’s top high school running backs.
Josh Mack, a senior selected to the 2014 Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester team, said he expects to miss Pittsford’s final regular season games with a broken left hand. Mack said two screws were inserted during surgery Monday to help heal the metacarpal bone fracture.
“I’m out for 10 days,” Mack said. “I’ll be back for sectionals.”
Mack said the injury occurred Sept. 26 as he applied a stiff-arm on a Fairport defender. The Pittsford Sutherland senior decided to play Saturday against Orchard Park, a matchup of top-10 teams in the state rankings, with the idea he would soon be sidelined.
“I found out at halftime (of the game against Fairport) what happened but I was trying to talk to the coaches about having me go in,” Mack said. “They wouldn’t let me go in, so I told them I’d play against OP and just get surgery.
“I kept asking the doctor how long, and if I waited, but I think it’s the best time to get surgery.”
Pittsford defeated Orchard Park, of Section VI or Buffalo-region, 41-28, as Mack ran for 353 yards with four touchdowns on the huge total of 49 carries. Former Canandaigua running back Kaheem Gist set the Section V single-game rushing record at 449 yards on 39 attempts eight years ago.
“Right when I was told at the end of the game I thought, ‘People are going to think I’m crazy’,” Pittsford coach Keith Molinich said. “What I do as a running backs coach is ask the guys, ‘How you feeling, how you feeling?’ and he was saying ‘Give me the ball more, give the ball more.’
“I had no idea, I thought it was down in the low 30s someplace. Now we have a guy who keeps track of that, but I never thought to go ask him. So it’s clearly something we’ll keep an eye on in the future. We don’t want to drain a kid, but he had a night-and-a-half that night.”
Mack said he would ask to carry the ball 40 times again, “if I had the opportunity.” It will be at least two games before that chance arrives again. Pittsford, No. 5 in the New York State Sportswriters Association state rankings released Wednesday, plays at Webster Thomas on Friday and at Penfield on Oct. 16.
“We knew going into the Orchard Park game that was going to be his last game for a couple of weeks,” Molinich said. “He embraced that, he was excited about that. We have quite a number of kids that can run the ball. Marquis Carter is an extremely capable young man and Michael DeLucia is as well.
“(We have) the kids who got time in the second part of that Fairport game, because Marquise wasn’t feeling great and Mikey wasn’t feeling great, Frank Imburgia and we had Aiden Whitely. So we have five capable running backs. You know, Josh clearly is at a different level, but we have guys that can win football games.”