First play of the season for Pennridge High School. Handoff to senior tailback Ryan Greiser. Result: a 58-yard touchdown run. Question: So what do you do for an encore? If you’re Ryan Greiser, the answer is “Plenty.”
He went on to set school records for touchdowns in a season (33), most rushing yards in a season (2,030), most rushing yards in a game (295) and most rushing yards in a career (4,060). He also holds the Pennridge record for longest kickoff return, 93 yards for a touchdown.
Greiser also maintains a 3.7 grade point average, which combined with his splendid football accomplishments, made him the Maxwell Club’s choice for the 20th annual Jim Henry Award as the area’s outstanding student-athlete for 2004.
“In my mind, Ryan’s most impressive statistic, without a doubt, is his yards per carry average of 9.3,” Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach told Robert Hoffman of the Allentown Morning Call. “It’s just unbelievable that someone can carry the ball as much as he did (218 times) and average over nine yards a carry.”
Greiser also made All-State as a defensive back as he recorded 52 tackles with eight sacks and scored three defensive touchdowns. As a senior, he led the Rams to a 10-3 record and a share of the Suburban One National Conference championship. He helped the team advance to the second round of the District One Class 4A playoffs. The 6-1, 210-pound Greiser also was named The Morning Call’s Player of the Year.
“I can’t really believe that I got 2,000 yards this season,” Greiser told Hoffman. “Coming into this year, I didn’t expect to have the season I did. Winning this (player of the year) award definitely means a lot, especially with all the great players in the area. It’s a big honor for me.”
Greiser had several outstanding games, including a great performance against defending state champion North Penn, when he rallied the Rams from a 27-14 deficit, breaking away on an 80-yard touchdown run to spark a 35-27 win. He finished the game with 219 yards rushing, 102 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
On his 18th birthday, playing against rival Pennsbury, Greiser scored on a 55-yard pass reception and a 55-yard interception return in a span of less than a minute. He finished the game with 314 yards of total offense and a school record five touchdowns as the Rams romped 40-19.
“Without him, I don’t know what kind of year we would’ve had,” Hollenbach said. “It’s safe to say we wouldn’t have made the playoffs and certainly not won a share of the league championship. It would’ve been interesting to see how many wins we would’ve gotten.”
“He’s been the backbone of the team,” said teammate Rick Ventresca. “We know that we are never out of the game when we look in the backfield and see Ryan.”
“My coaches put me in the right situations to get those yards and my teammates around me open the holes that allow me to do what I need to do to get those extra yards,” Greiser said. “The wins are great, but my best memories are the times with my teammates and coaches, the time getting to know them and the personal relationships that were built along the way.”
Greiser was recruited by a number of Division One colleges, including Syracuse, Stanford and Penn State, but he has chosen to attend Liberty University, a Christian-based Division 1-AA college in Lynchburg, Va.
“At Liberty, I can also get a great education and be challenged spiritually, too,” Greiser said. “What really sold me on Liberty are the opportunities that I have that will prepare me for the rest of my life.”
Winner: Jim Henry Award – 2004 Pennridge High School