With his team playing flat emotionally and struggling with an inferior opponent, B.J. Harris injected the spark of energy needed Friday night. McCallie's junior running back broke loose for scoring runs of 65, 90 and 62 yards to help his team pull away for a 48-21 Division II-AAA region win over Father Ryan.
Harris finished the night with 259 of the Blue Tornado's 371 rushing yards, which earned him the honor of Times Free Press prep player of the week.
"It was a weird game," Blue Tornado coach Ralph Potter said. "They punched us in the mouth early, and we just seemed to struggle with being a little flat. They were committed to having a lot of defenders near the line, so once B.J. got past the initial wave he was gone.
"He's probably the most improved player we've got on our team. He burst on the scene as a freshman but then struggled as a sophomore a little bit and didn't have a great year. That could've gone one of two ways, and what he did was come back willing to earn everything he gets.
"He worked as hard as anybody in the weightroom and really bought into what we're doing," Potter added. "There's a lot of temptation for guys who are getting recruited to not have to do the little things, but B.J. is mature in how he approaches the game, and there isn't an ounce of entitlement about him. He lost a little weight, which helped with his speed, he's been very consistent and is having a fantastic year."
Friday's rushing total pushed Harris over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Through eight games he has 1,142 and 19 touchdowns, which is nearly 500 more yards than he finished with last season.
As part of an offense that averages 40 points per game, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Harris is gaining 9.1 yards per carry.
Top-ranked McCallie (8-0, 4-0) trailed Father Ryan 21-19 at halftime and had just 2 more yards of total offense. As the Blue Tornado pulled away in the second half, they outgained the Irish 276-94.
Harris, who lost more than 10 pounds during the offseason, helped put that game away with the 62-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
"With our offense, we have plenty of ways to hurt other teams. Our skills are pretty spread out," said Harris, who is being recruited by Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee, among others. "Coming off our bye week we hadn't had good practices, and we weren't playing well in the first half. The big plays really just sort of happened."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.