Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Transformation Tuesday: South Western's Felton is Gamer Through And Through



February 2012:

By Zach Smart

Wedged between his mother and father and draped in a silky cherry-red dress shirt and black tie, South Western High senior Mike Felton penned his national letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to play football at Temple University.

With a camera crew hawking his every move and athletic director Don Seidenstricker standing proudly behind his shoulders, steady applause erupted from the right side of the library at South Western High School.  As he cracked a smile and penned his John Hancock,a busload of South Western teammates and friends kept the applause going for roughly 30 seconds.

Felton then took the Temple University fitted cap to the right of him, gently squeezing it on.

Immediately, it fit. A good fit, both figuratively and literally.

It’s official. Felton, a hotly pursued recruit at strong safety, is a Temple Owl.

Felton inked on National Signing Day for football recruits, which marks the first calendar day recruits can officially sign.

When I went down for my official visit, the coaching staff and the team all showed me a lot of love," said Felton, whose storied four-year career will end with the annual Big 33 Football Classic in June at Hershey.

 "I could tell that this (Temple) is where I belong. Our recruiting class is crazy this year. We've got a good amount of talent coming in. We want to come in there and make an impact right away. We just want to keep propelling Temple football up to the top of the food chain."

The opportunity of earning meaningful playing time from the get-go helped sell Felton on Temple.

 Felton developed a rapport with starting cornerback Anthony Robey, who hosted him during his overnight recruiting trip.

During his visit, Felton enjoyed the bustling Philly streets and city atmosphere, a far ways from the rural Baltimore suburb of Hanover.

 Felton's growing relationship with Steve Addazio, he of the supreme motivational tactics helped seal the deal. Addazio had been active pursuit of Felton since his junior season.

"Once I got the scholarship offer, I just felt like I was part of Temple," Felton said. "It's a sigh of relief to finally be done the paperwork."

For Felton's father, former Gettysburg standout Michael Felton Sr., watching his son attain a childhood dream was bittersweet.

Felton Jr. always possessed athleticism beyond his years. His monster work ethic and innate passion for the game, however, allowed him to solidify a Division-I profile.

"I've got to be honest with you. At first when I saw Philadelphia, I was like, 'I can't let my baby boy go up there by himself,'" Felton Sr. said with a chuckle.

"But Mike's a mature man. He knows what he's supposed to do while he's going to school there. It's all about education first. Football, that's something extra because you can't play football forever."

His senior season, Felton wore several helmets for the Mustangs.

He was a multi-faceted threat, containing unrivaled versatility. On the season, Felton rushed for 1,033 yards, averaging a robust 7.3 yards per carry. Felton backboned the Mustangs' defensive unit, registering 6.8 tackles per game.

How were the Mustangs able to cultivate Felton's jack-of-all-trades trait?

 In three years, Felton played four different positions on defense. He accounted for 13 points per game. Felton additionally averaged 41.5 yards per punt. He handled kickoffs, punt returns, kickoff returns and lined up as a receiver. He did everything but hand out tickets.

The end product was a 5-0 YAIAA Division I record, a 9-3 overall record, and South Western's 13th YAIAA division championship in 26 years.

"With Mike playing all these different positions, I can't say it really surprises me," Felton Sr. said.

 "Because when Mike first started playing football, heck, he was a Guard. Mike has something that is not really taught. He has God-given talent. He was born to play football.”

 There are a lot of things he can do. I believe he can play at quarterback if he wanted to."

 Former South Western head coach Don Seidenstricker said Felton is in a category of rarified athletes that have come through the system.

"Mike competes to the end," Seidenstricker explained. "You talk about getting things done in kind of an unassuming, blue-collar way. He is first minute to last minute in everything he does."

November 2013

By Clay Bailey, AP

P.J. Walker threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Robby Anderson, as Temple closed out its season with a 41-21 victory over Memphis on Saturday.
Walker completed 20-32 passes on the day.

Anderson had 96 yards receiving, including scoring catches of 1, 11 and 21 yards. Chris Coyer had three receptions for 129 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch.

The win gave the Owls (2-10, 1-7) their first victory in the American Athletic Conference, while snapping a four-game losing streak overall. Temple's offense dominated the nationally-ranked Memphis defense, amassing 534 yards in total offense on the day. Memphis (3-8, 1-6) managed only 228 yards.

Besides Walker's four touchdown passes, the Owls scored when Michael Felton recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. Nick Visco kicked field goals from 22 and 19 yards.
Sam Craft scored all three Memphis touchdowns - on runs of 1 and 3 yards and a 10-yard pass from Paxton Lynch.

Temple mangled the Memphis defense, which entered the game ranked 16th nationally. By halftime, Temple not only led 17-7, but had racked up 310 yards. It marked the fifth time in the last six games that Temple led at halftime.

Meanwhile, the Owls defense, ranked last in the conference, held the Tigers to a scant 74 yards, as Memphis had the ball only 8:32 of the half.

Memphis' offense was stagnant from the start. Lynch was having trouble getting the ball past the line of scrimmage. His first three passes were batted away, including two by Kamal Johnson.

That led to only 8 yards for the Tigers through the first period. Meanwhile, Temple was collecting 134 yards, but could manage only a 22-yard field goal from Visco, a kick that was low and crawled over the crossbar.

Temple would capitalize on a fumble by Memphis running back Doroland Dorceus at the Owls 13. Temple went 87 yards on the ensuing drive, the final yard covered on a pass from Walker to Anderson.

Anderson would score again on an 11-yard pass from Walker in the closing seconds of the half.
Memphis scored on a 1-yard run by Craft after Joe Craig's 56-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. At the start of that drive, Memphis' offense was balanced - 25 yards passing; 25 yards rushing.
Walker continued to connect after halftime, throwing the 75-yard touchdown pass to Coyer. The Owls' lead reached 31-14 in the third quarter when Sharif Finch blocked a Memphis punt and Felton recovered the ball in the end zone for Temple.

Visco's 19-yard field goal, and Anderson's 21-yard pass Walker closed out the scoring for Temple