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Smooth sailing for Ruffing

Ryan Ruffing has had a fantastic first season as the primary running back for Washington and Jefferson.
W&J athletics photo 

Ryan Ruffing went into the season prepared to seize the opportunity to be the starting running back for Washington and Jefferson.

With the regular season in the books and the playoffs on the horizon for the Presidents, Ruffing has made the most of it. The junior has rushed for 1,505 yards and 24 touchdowns in 10 games, establishing himself as one of the top running backs in the nation.

Ruffing ranks fourth in the country in rushing yards and is only the third player in school history to run for more than 1,500 yards in a season. He was named a first-team All-PAC selection this week as well.

“I worked hard in the offseason and expected to play well,” Ruffing said. “I didn’t think things would go as well as they have, but I owe a lot of credit to the offensive line. They open up holes for me and the receivers do a great job of blocking on the perimeter. They have played a big part in my success.”

W&J coach Mike Sirianni, the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season, isn’t surprised by what Ruffing has accomplished.

“We knew what he was capable of doing,” Sirianni said. “He’s worked very hard to be a great player and it’s paid off. He’s having the kind of season we knew he could have this year.”

Ruffing, who churned out 391 yards in his first two seasons, played behind Dion Wiegand as a freshman and sophomore. He said it proved to be a valuable learning experience.

“It was good learning experience for me,” Ruffing said. “It took some time to adjust to the speed of the game when I first got here, but Dion helped me out a great deal. He was a great leader.”

Ruffing has done his best to be a leader as well, and what he hopes to do this week is help lead the Presidents to an opening round playoff victory over Wittenberg on the road.

W&J goes into the postseason stinging from a 31-28 overtime loss to rival Waynesburg, a setback that ended the Presidents’ shot at a 10-0 regular season.

But that loss is history as far as Ruffing is concerned.

“It’s behind us. There is no looking back,” Ruffing said. “We have to get ready for a big playoff game. Wittenberg has a good football team and we’re excited about the challenge of playing them. We know we have to prepare hard to be ready for it.”

W&J and Wittenberg are two of the winningest programs in NCAA Division III history. The Presidents rank third in wins with 706. The Tigers are second with 736.

Sirianni said this matchup is the one that...

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Columnist

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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