Football foursome

The Rhawn­hurst four (from left): Samir Bul­lock (Judge), Rush­awn Grange (North­east), Vince Mof­fett (SJ Prep) and Mar­quis Sea­mon (Judge). RICHARD KAUFF­MAN / FOR THE TIMES


There they were, seated next to one an­oth­er at a table in a back room of the George Pel­bano Re­cre­ation Cen­ter where they got their foot­ball start play­ing for the Rhawn­hurst Ath­let­ic As­so­ci­ation.

There were four of them, now spread across three Phil­adelphia high schools, all wear­ing the com­mem­or­ative jack­ets that marked Rhawn­hurst’s un­defeated 2010 sea­son, the one that taught them how to be win­ners.

On the right was Vince Mof­fett, the soft-spoken pun­ish­er, now a start­ing ju­ni­or run­ning back for a St. Joseph’s Prep team that is tops in the city; to his left was the elu­sive one, Mar­quis Sea­mon, a two-way ju­ni­or star at Judge who went down with a wrist in­jury in the sea­son’s first game; next to him was his best friend, sopho­more Samir Bul­lock, who has filled in du­ti­fully at run­ning back for the Cru­saders with Sea­mon out; and fi­nally, there was Rush­awn Grange, the sopho­more “goofy one,” ac­cord­ing to Sea­mon. Grange is the start­ing run­ning back at North­east with a spark­ing smile and long­ing de­sire to be in the spot­light.

To­geth­er, they be­came cham­pi­ons, a men­tal­ity they have brought with them to the high school level. And to­geth­er, they gathered last Sat­urday morn­ing to thank the or­gan­iz­a­tion, and head coach Ed Trampe, who put them in a place to achieve fu­ture suc­cess.

“Foot­ball was the sport I wanted to play,” Bul­lock said. “I wanted to go some­where where it was taken ser­i­ously. Coach Ed is the best coach I’ve had, be­cause he pre­pared us for what came next. I don’t know where I’d be if not for him and this place.”

“You come here, and it’s like a high school team be­fore you get to high school,” Grange ad­ded. “It’s no joke.”

They came here for dif­fer­ent reas­ons. Mof­fett, the neigh­bor­hood kid, joined Rhawn­hurst when he was 7 and went the dis­tance un­til he was ac­cep­ted in­to the Prep. Sea­mon is also from the area, but switched from Fox Rok to Rhawn­hurst in hopes of find­ing a more in­tense pro­gram, one that fea­tured grind­ing prac­tices where team­mates would lit­er­ally carry each oth­er on their backs for 100 yards be­fore bear crawl­ing back the op­pos­ite way. Bul­lock and Grange came from out­side the neigh­bor­hood in hopes of find­ing an or­gan­iz­a­tion that treated foot­ball as more than just a game.

However, in the end, they all ar­rived look­ing to find what it takes to crack the start­ing lineups at cut­throat city foot­ball pro­grams like North­east, Judge and the Prep. Mis­sion ac­com­plished.

“Play­ing here gave me the chance to go to the Prep,” Mof­fett said. “I’m very grate­ful.”

Ad­ded Sea­mon: “Rhawn­hurst helped get me in­to Judge, no ques­tion. I’m glad I played here.”

So far, things have worked out just fine. Mof­fett earned second-team All-Cath­ol­ic hon­ors as a sopho­more in 2011 after rush­ing for 424 yards and pulling in an­oth­er 177 through the air; he has put up al­most identic­al num­bers in 2012 for an un­defeated team that just dealt La Salle its first di­vi­sion loss since 2009. Sea­mon stood out at corner­back a year ago and rushed for 53 yards this sea­son in Judge’s open­ing game in Ire­land be­fore break­ing his wrist; in his ab­sence, Bul­lock has stepped up with 652 yards and four touch­downs (high­lighted by 238 and 190-yard rush­ing per­form­ances); Grange has gone for 311 yards on the ground, 265 of which came in two games against Lin­coln and South­ern.

In 2010, their fi­nal year as Rhawn­hurst team­mates, the four­some capped an un­defeated sea­son with a cham­pi­on­ship win over rival Holmes­burg. From there, Mof­fett and Sea­mon moved onto the high school level, while Bul­lock and Grange con­tin­ued to ad­vance their games in pre­par­a­tion to fol­low suit. The 2012 sea­son has seen all four con­trib­ute at a high level; when Sea­mon was lost for the year, Bul­lock ran with his in­creased role. To­geth­er, they learned how to be un­selfish, how to win, and most im­port­ant, they learned from each oth­er’s strengths.

“These guys right here (Sea­mon and Mof­fett) taught me how to be a run­ning back,” Bul­lock said.

“Vince taught me how to be tough,” Sea­mon said. “He’s the toughest kid I know. I was glad whenev­er he blocked for me, be­cause I knew he would put the de­fend­er on his back.”

“These guys taught me how to be more elu­sive,” Mof­fett said. “How to break the big run in­stead of just pound­ing the ball.”

Per­haps the biggest com­pli­ment came from Grange, who lamen­ted about a failed op­por­tun­ity to en­roll at Judge with Sea­mon and Bul­lock due to poor grades. He’s hop­ing to fix that head­ing in­to next sea­son as he looks for a pro­gram that of­fers stiffer com­pet­i­tion and wider ex­pos­ure.

“My mo­tiv­a­tion is them,” Grange said. “I see Vince in the pa­per and I re­mem­ber how he taught me how to run low and hard. Mar­quis is a lock­down corner, and I want to emu­late his speed. Samir is a high­light-reel run­ning back, which I want to be. These guys mo­tiv­ate me to be­come a bet­ter foot­ball play­er.”

The man who all three schools owe a great debt of grat­it­ude to is Trampe, who got these four to em­brace a more dis­cip­lined ap­proach while shed­ding any me-first at­ti­tude prob­lems that needed to be ad­jus­ted.

“Here we have an en­vir­on­ment to get kids ready, both men­tally and phys­ic­ally,” Trampe said. “We prac­tice hard here to get them ready for that level. For them to come here with no egos and buy in­to each oth­er, in­to win­ning and get­ting bet­ter, that’s a test­a­ment to them. That’s why they’re spe­cial and why they are where they are.

“You can see cer­tain kids just have it,” he con­tin­ued. “When they get to me be­fore high school, cer­tain guys step up and sep­ar­ate them­selves. For them to go from whip­ping boys who couldn’t do much right to dis­cip­lined lead­ers on these teams, how can you not be proud? You take pride as a coach and as an or­gan­iz­a­tion that you play a part in de­vel­op­ing these kids for the fu­ture.”

Now, only Sea­mon and Bul­lock are team­mates, but the four still keep tabs on each oth­er. Most of all, no mat­ter how much suc­cess they have at the high school level and bey­ond, they won’t for­get where it all star­ted.

“I’ll nev­er for­get this or­gan­iz­a­tion, be­cause I wouldn’t be where I am now or be the play­er I am today without them,” Bul­lock said.

“We’re not go­ing to for­get where it all star­ted … how could we?” Mof­fett asked. “We’ll re­mem­ber in twenty to thirty years, I’ll bet.”

And even though his sea­son of high ex­pect­a­tions has been lost due to in­jury, Sea­mon put the bond these four share in­to per­spect­ive.

“It’s like fam­ily,” he said. “We stick to­geth­er, and I hope to see them down the line do­ing big things in col­lege and bey­ond, or whatever makes them happy. I know we’ll all have good lives, and much of it is be­cause we all star­ted here, to­geth­er.” ••

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