LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Matt McLain doesn't mind being a follower.
Some may not consider it the fashionable thing to do, but McLain doesn't care. Everywhere Bobby Schwarzenberger goes, McLain follows.
McLain and Schwarzenberger are the Pinelands Regional High School football team's backfield duo, and the two seniors have been unstoppable this season.
With Schwarzenberger, the fullback, leading the charge, McLain ran through the Central Regional defense at will as the Wildcats beat Central 48-20 in a Shore Conference game Friday.
A week after running for 322 yards and four touchdowns in the team's season opener, McLain somehow outdid himself by running for 336 yards and five touchdowns.
McLain was hesitant to even speak with reporters after the game. He brought some of his offensive linemen over to speak and gave them all of the credit for his accomplishments.
"It's a team effort," McLain said. "Without all 11 guys working together, it doesn't mean anything."
Pinelands' offensive-line play has been strong this season despite returning only two starters from last year's team.
Combine that with Schwarzenberger's blocking, and McLain typically has options on which hole to run through on each carry.
"It's all open space," McLain said. "Bobby does his thing and all the linemen are doing what they do. It's nice to run behind a line like this."
Schwarzenberger is a Division I prospect at linebacker who is drawing interest from North Carolina, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Temple and West Virginia.
He rarely blocks one person on a play. He usually gets a piece of two or three would-be tacklers to open up space for his backfield mate.
"I love blocking for that kid," Schwarzenberger said. "He's a good kid. I love him to death. He's like my brother. He's a hell of a football player, and I'm more than honored to block for him."
Nobody could have expected McLain to be putting up the outlandish numbers he has so far, but people around him say they always have known he is a special talent.
"I never thought it would happen but I always knew that with the potential that kid has, it was a good possibility," Schwarzenberger said.
Coach Sean DeRosa was praising McLain well before he exploded over the past two games.
"Nobody really gave him much credit coming into the year," DeRosa said. "Nobody really had him on their radar, but he ran for 1,000 yards last year. He refuses to be tackled. He really is a special kid. He's got the speed. He's got the desire. He's got all the intangibles to be an outstanding running back. … He just plays football. He's a football player through and through."
McLain ran for 267 yards and four touchdowns in the second half of last week's 50-36 win against Monsignor Donovan, and he went for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the first half Friday.
So in a four-quarter stretch, McLain ran for 468 yards and eight touchdowns.
Central scored first as running back Kalyph Hardy broke through the line on the game's second play and scored a 61-yard touchdown to take an early 6-0 lead.
Pinelands led 7-6 after one quarter, but the Wildcats played nearly flawless football in the second quarter to put the game away.
During one nine-play stretch, Pinelands forced four turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats scored five touchdowns - three by McLain, one on a 39-yard halfback pass from Jacob Hartman to Brandon Gobel, and one on a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Keller to Gobel.
Pinelands (2-0) will need to play its best next week when it travels to Lacey Township (2-0) on Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. The Lions are No. 4 in The Press Elite 11.
"We've got to play a perfect football game," DeRosa said. "If you want to beat a team that's in the state finals and the state semifinals every year, a program of that caliber, you have to play a perfect football game. It's going to be a fun game."
Hardy was the lone bright spot for Central, running for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
Keller was 5-for-5 passing for 83 yards and a touchdown. Hartman caught three passes for 66 yards to go along with the 39-yard touchdown pass, and Gobel caught two passes, each touchdowns, for 48 yards.
Contact John O'Kane:
Central Regional 6 0 0 14-20
Pinelands Regional 7 35 0 6-48
CR-Hardy 61 run (kick failed)
PR-McLain 17 run (Munson kick)
PR-McLain 21 run (Munson kick)
PR-Gobel 39 pass by Hartman (Munson kick) PR-Gobel 9 pass by Keller (Munson kick) PR-McLain 3 run (Munson kick) PR-McLain 27 run (Munson kick)
CR-Hardy 1 run (conversion failed) PR-McLain 54 run (kick failed) CR-Gordon 64 run (conversion failed)
TEAM STATS CR PR
Rushing 219 346
Passing 38 122
First downs 7 20
Penalties 2-5 6-45
Turnovers 5 1
Rushing - Central Regional, Hardy 15-154, Gordon 4-74, Stokes 3-2, Grieco 3-(-11); Pinelands Regional, McLain 26-336, Schwarzenberger 5-14, Keller 3-2, Roman 1-1, McDermott 1-(-1), McPhee 4-(-6) .
Passing - Central Regional, Grieco 3-7-38-1; Pinelands Regional, Keller 5-5-83-0, Hartman 1-1-39-0.
Receiving - Central Regional, Stokes 1-19, Uhlak 1-12, Dwight 1-7; Pinelands Regional, Hartman 3-66, Gobel 2-48, McCormack 1-8 .
RECORDS - Central 0-2; Pinelands 2-0.