Record-setter Medley made easy adjustments

Hun running back prepares for next step — college

By: Justin Feil
   Ishmael Medley wasn’t sure how he would do at The Hun School this year.
   Princeton was different from what he was used to, the people were different, the classes were different, even the newspapers were different. They were all much different than what Medley was accustomed to at his home in Elizabeth.
   "It was a very different environment," admitted the Hun post-graduate. "I had to adapt to the different situations. The way they do things, it was so much by the book. In my old school, they weren’t as concerned about that."
   Among all the differences for Medley one thing stayed the same – football.
   Medley, who was also an accomplished wrestler at Elizabeth High, was recruited by several Division I football programs as a junior and senior in Northern New Jersey. But many of those schools had already used their scholarships when he received a qualifying SAT score in June.
   Medley came to Hun to prepare himself for college, and not only will he graduate this spring better prepared for the next level, he will leave as the Raiders’ school record holder for rushing yards in a season with 1,166.
   The 17-year-old also scored a staggering 21 touchdowns rushing and had another 17 receptions out of the backfield for 216 yards. In all, he scored 144 points, a total that includes six two-point conversions to help Hun to a 5-4 record that includes wins in its final three games.
   Ishmael Medley’s standout season with the Raiders earns him the Princeton Packet Player of the Year.
   "He is, in terms of a football player with raw talent and motivation, he would be the best I’ve had," said Hun head coach Dave Dudeck, who has coached high school football for 15 years. "He’s more of what you’d call the full package, on defense and offense. He has the ability to run, the ability to catch the ball and the ability to block. Defensively, he can read plays and make bone-jarring hits."
   Before Medley came to Hun, college recruiters were more interested in him as a defensive player. But after his solid fall, coaches from Division I and Division I-AA programs are also asking about his interest on the offensive side of the ball.
   "I love defense," said Medley, who finished the season with 104 tackles, "but I’ll play offense just to get on the field. I’d love to play defense though."
   Medley’s top suitors are West Virginia, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Hofstra and Delaware. Nothing’s guaranteed, according to Medley, but more than likely one of those schools will be getting a very talented player who feels better prepared in the classroom already after less than half a year at Hun.
   "I came here to get another year to be better for the next step," Medley said. "Academically, there’s no doubt it’s helped. It’s no joke coming out of this school. It’s a lot different from the public school I was in. There are two-hour mandatory study halls. That will only prepare me better for the next step. That’s college."
   Medley complimented his academic improvement with his solid work on the football field, though he came in already a very polished student of the game.
   "He was like another coach at times," Dudeck said. "He was really good at evaluating talent. Before the Lawrenceville game, for instance, I give him the film. It’s a huge, huge game for us. After he watched it, I asked him what he thought. He said we were going to win, 28-0. It was 28-7, so he was real close. He’s a good kid, and my big thing is to push him to get him where he needs to be for next year."
   Medley believes this year has already helped him as much on the football field as in the classroom.
   "I’ve learned a lot," he said. "I learned more about the game. I’m more experienced, and I’m just one step closer to being at a college level. It was hard being a two-way player."
   Particularly when you’re asked to do as much as Medley. In his senior year at Elizabeth, Medley wasn’t given the ball a lot. As a fullback, he opened up holes for a 2,000-yard rusher, and Medley scored nine touchdowns over the entire season.
   "I got that after three games here," Medley said. "I couldn’t believe it. I kind of knew I was going to get the ball 20 times a game, but we had a decent halfback (Mike Diverio). But they kept feeding me the ball.
   "I felt as though I ran better every week, not so much as a fullback, but as a tailback. Instead of running over them, I had to avoid them."
   As for his final yardage and touchdown totals, Medley summed up his season with typical humility.
   "I think I did pretty well. One of my goals was to rush for 1,000 yards. I didn’t even know about the record until the seventh game. I also wanted to have over 100 tackles. I think I did that, too."
   Now, Medley shifts his focus, not to wrestling because he is looking to increase his weight, but to lifting weights and running to prepare himself for fall Saturdays next year.
   "I expect him, and would be disappointed if he didn’t excel in college," Dudeck said. "He’ll continue to make this school and whatever college he attends proud. As a football player and a person, he’s special.
   "I’m thrilled he came from a totally different environment like Elizabeth and fit right in with the kids. He’s fit in socially, in the classroom and on the field. He’s been great for us."