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Running Back Duo of Luke Garing, Jayce Anderson Accomplish Something That Hasn’t Been Done at Karns City in Four Decades

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It hasn’t happened in nearly 40 years at Karns City, despite the string of standout running backs who have cycled through the football program.

It’s almost unfathomable that it has taken that long for two Gremlins to rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season.

(Above, KC’s Luke Garing dives into the end zone for a touchdown against Ridgway/Photo by Stetson Mead of Holly Mead Photography)

But it has.

Back in the early 1980s, Joe Kepple and Brad Sherwin each rushed for 1,000 yards for Karns City.

It hadn’t happened again until Luke Garing and Jayce Anderson both surpassed the century mark last week in a 35-7 win over Ridgway in the District 9 Class 2A championship game.

Joe Kepple and Brad Sherwin have ties to this Karns City team. Joe’s son, Zach Kepple, is the offensive coordinator while Brad’s brother, Joe Sherwin, is the head coach.

“They remind us about it a lot,” Sherwin said, smiling as he shot a glance across the coach’s room at Kepple. “It was 1981, 1982, something like that. Their claim to fame is they only needed 10 games to do it.”

It took Garing and Anderson a little longer, but they’ve done it as perfect complements to each other.

Garing is the bruiser. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he moves piles. Good luck stopping him when he gets a head of steam on short-yardage situations. That’s why the Gremlins created a package just for him called “Hogs” with Garing in the wildcat. It has proven to be a potent weapon this season.

Anderson is more of a slasher, running off-tackle and using his speed and quickness to get yardage.

He leads the team in rushing — by two yards over Garing.

Anderson has 1,033 yards on just 123 carries and 10 touchdowns while Garing has 1,031 yards on 144 attempts and 25 TDs.

“Luke’s the guy who if we need a few yards, he’s most likely the guy we’re gonna go to,” Sherwin said. “Jayce runs a bit inside, but he’s more of like your off-tackle, outside guy. They feed off each other well.”

The signs were there last season in a shortened campaign that Garing and Anderson could be a special duo for Karns City.

While they only combined for 629 rushing yards as juniors, they showed the flashes of what they have become this year as seniors.

“We’ve played together for however long — probably since midgets,” Anderson said. “We’ve always fed off each other well.”

Neither of them, though, envisioned they would both surpass 1,000 yards this season.

They’ve gotten there in different ways.

(Jayce Anderson breaks into the open field/Holly Mead)

Anderson is often the forgotten guy in the Karns City offense. But he’s also consistent. Anderson has only four 100-yard rushing games this season, but also was only held to fewer than 60 yards once.

Anderson can also lower his shoulder and move the pile if need be.

Garing has received more attention because of his touchdown totals and his penchant for running over and dragging tacklers on many of his bullish runs.

But he started the season with just 11 carries for 47 yards in the first two games. Then he became a much larger part of the offense and also was never held to fewer than 60 yards in a game after that.

Garing’s biggest calling card this season has been his nose for the end zone. He’s scored at least one touchdown in all 12 games Karns City has played this season. He’s scored multiple TDs in nine of those contests.

“I love watching him run people over,” said Anderson, chuckling. “It’s always something cool to see.”

“I just lower my shoulder and keep my feet moving,” Garing said, smiling. “It is kind of fun.”

They also find it fun to block for the other.

Karns City’s offense has a fair share of misdirection built in, which makes having two dangerous backs even more advantageous.

“We do a lot of faking in the backfield,” Anderson said. “The linebackers and linemen can’t really key on one guy. They have to key on two, so that kind of makes a big game for both of us.”

Teams expect Anderson to be elusive in the open field. Garing, not so much.

But Garing moves well for a big man and can blend his strength with some unexpected open-field moves to confound the opponent.

“They get surprised when I make a move on them,” Garing said. “I also use a stiff arm here and there to get defenders away from me.”

Garing and Anderson will have a challenge ahead of them this week when Karns City hosts Farrell in the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs.

Getting them going will be key as the Gremlins hope to control the ball and the clock to keep the potent Steelers’ offense off the field.

A big part of that — and to the duo’s success this season — has been the offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers blocking for them.

“It’s an awesome accomplishment, not just for us to each get 1,000 yards, but for our linemen and our whole team,” Garing said. “To have two 1,000-yard rushers shows just how good they are.”