When Tyris Gunter intercepted a pass at the Lindenwold 15-yard line last week,
the Lions’ linebacker had a clear path to the Collingswood end zone. There wasn’t a Panther within 10 yards of him.
Yet, with each step closer to the end zone Gunter got, Collingswood senior Forrely Gunby got two steps closer to him. On a play he had no business being anywhere near, Gunby tracked Gunter down by the 5-yard-line and tackled him to the ground.
It’s a moment that could have been overlooked by many—considering that Gunter did reach the end zone before being brought to the ground—but it was the perfect example of the type of player Gunby is.
He never quits on a play, regardless of the situation, and that’s why head coach John McConnell considers him one of the most substantial players on the team.
“He just does everything it takes for our team to win,” McConnell said. “It doesn’t matter if he had the ball or was blocking, he was a part of every big play we had.”
Gunby had his most productive day of the season last Friday, rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. His best series came early in the second quarter when he broke off runs of 8, 10 and 8 yards before rushing for four more on a third-and-3, finishing what he'd started with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Gunby and fellow back Deron Maxwell helped the Panthers improve to 2-3 by combining for more than 350 yards. The two runners aren’t so much a thunder-and-lightning combo as they are just two talented runners who don’t mind sharing the spotlight.
“Every time I am tired, he comes up and steps up big,” Gunby said. “Every time he’s tired, I come in and step up big. That’s the kind of relationship we need to have on this team. We need to be able to depend on each other and that’s what we do.”
Gunby said the win was a confidence booster for the team and something for the Panthers to build on. McConnell agreed, saying the team needed something to feel good about.
“It felt really good,” McConnell said. “We have had a couple struggles this year and we had to get off of that losing streak. No matter what type of win it is, they are tough to come by and we had to enjoy it. We took steps forward.”
The Panthers face cross-town rival Audubon Friday, and have a chance to even their record with a win.
“We have a chance to get to .500 so that’s what we are pushing for,” McConnell said. “We made some strides on the field and you are seeing the commitment now, with all of the guys showing up and on time. We are going to keep pushing them to do the best we can and that’s all we can ask of them.”
When it comes to Gunby, the coaches never have to ask twice.