By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Burke Catholic running back Solomon Hemingway seemingly came out of nowhere late last fall, emerging as a postseason star for the Eagles, who reached the semifinals of the Class C state playoffs.
However, Burke Catholic coach Aaron Hasbrouck knew he had a prime time player long before Hemingway went off.
“We knew we had a weapon, we just wanted to save him a little bit,” Hasbrouck said. “(Running back) David Ross and (quarterback) Heath Hoovler were rolling on offense for most of the season. We were keeping Solomon in our back pocket as a secret weapon.”
There is nothing secret about Hemingway anymore. The kid who never even played running back before last season is already on the radar of all of the Eagles’ 2018 opponents. Soft-spoken and humble, Hemingway, a senior, is eager to fulfill his new role as Burke Catholic’s leader.
“I feel good and I’m ready for this opportunity,” Hemingway said before the start of Camp of Champions on Sunday. “We are moving up a class (to Class B) and I want to help my team win. I’m looking forward to showcasing my talents and I love that my role has increased. I’ve worked hard for this.”
Camp of Champions runs from Sunday through Thursday at Valley Central High School in Montgomery. It culminates with a multi-team scrimmage on the final day. Burke Catholic, Minisink Valley, Monroe-Woodbury, Pine Bush, Valley Central, Wallkill and Warwick are competing at Camp of Champions.
Hemingway, who has drawn interest from Fordham University and Pace, started last season as a slot receiver. On the defensive side of the ball, Hasbrouck shifted him from starting defensive back to linebacker. The coach wanted to give Hemingway time to adjust to that position before he introduced Section 9 to Solomon Time on offense.
Star running back David Ross rushed for 1,550 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior last year and was named to the Class C all-state first team. However, as the playoffs approached, Hasbrouck wanted to diversify with Hemingway, who only carried the ball 14 times for 93 yards during the regular-season.
He broke out for 200 rushing yards on 11 carries (18.2 average) and two touchdowns in a 40-12 win over rival Chester in the Section 9 Class C championship, adding 127 yards and two scores in 62-12 win against Albertus Magnus in the state quarterfinals. Hemingway rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-23 loss to Holy Trinity in the state semifinals.
Hemingway finished the season with 543 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 11.3 yards per carry. His emergence is even more impressive considering that he never played running back previously.
“A kid with that kind of speed is always a plus and we knew Solomon was a wildcard,” Hasbrouck said. “We have been blessed with some pretty good running backs and I think he can carry the torch. Solomon can put up some numbers for us this year.”
Like Ross and Garnett Nicolas before him, Hemingway can also run the ball with power. He learned the art of breaking long runs by working with Hasbrouck and his staff, and NFL running backs. Hemingway’s favorite is Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Being able to watch David and Garnett was a good thing,” Hemingway said. “It helped me adapt and I have a great line, which made it easier to run through the open hole. It feels good to help my team and I want to strive for greatness for them this year. I want to be the best I can for them.”