By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — They tug at him, his two loves. They’re the center of Sean Coleman’s sports world, depending on the season, and he’s adept at both football and lacrosse. The La Salle 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior is one of the best wide receivers in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Coleman’s pleasant dilemma is that he also happens to be one of the best lacrosse players in the country, too. It’s not a bad spot, until you’re faced with making a choice where your future lies, and in Coleman’s case, he’s chosen to attend Harvard to play lacrosse.
So his football life is wilting away. Each game now means a little more, with elimination shadowing the Explorers, who exorcised their archenemy last weekend in a 28-27 overtime classic against St. Joseph’s Prep, considered the best team in the state.
Coleman had a game that not only he’ll remember for a very long time, but anyone who watched him won’t soon forget, either. He hauled in 14 passes for 138 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime.
Coleman’s 14 catches were a career best, and it enabled the Explorers to win their fifth-straight Philadelphia Catholic League Class AAAA championship, and set up La Salle for a fifth-straight District 12 (or city championship).
La Salle, 10-1 overall, will play Philadelphia Public League champion Frankford on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Northeast High School for the city title.
And the Pioneers, like every other team La Salle has faced this season, will have to devise a plan to stop Coleman. Nowhere near an easy task.
Coleman won one PIAA Class AAAA state football championship his freshman year at La Salle. He helped the Explorers reach the state championship again his sophomore year, making the game-winning score to conclude seven lead changes in another classic, against North Penn.
Now Coleman plays with a personal timer in his head, knowing now that each game could be the last time he wears shoulder pads and a football helmet at La Salle.
It’s been a powerful tonic.
“Two things I think make Sean special, the one being his humility, it’s never about him, it’s about the team, he’s always putting his teammates and everyone else before him,” La Salle coach Drew Gordon said. “That quality comes across with the other players, and they see that. The other quality is his skills. He has the quickest feet I think I’ve ever seen. Sean just has that, and it’s God-given. He also has a great work ethic. When we do drills, he doesn’t go in the back of the line, he goes back two or three to get as many extra reps as he can.
“But I think you can see he’s more intense these days. Sean realizes the end is coming and he’s going to do everything he can to win another state title before he’s through.”
Gordon has no problem coming out and saying Coleman can play football for Harvard, which is ranked No. 24 in the country.
“I definitely thought about trying out for the football team at Harvard, and I’m not ruling it out, but I think it would be a tough thing to play both football and lacrosse at Harvard,” Coleman admitted. “I’m probably going to just play lacrosse. It makes this all tough, this year. I feel like my freshman and sophomore years were almost like yesterday. You don’t realize everything is almost over until it’s near. I don’t think there is any better way to go out than winning a state title in football and lacrosse.”
So in the meantime, Coleman moves forward, making big catches in big games, continuing to be a primetime, when-the-lights-are-on performer. Running parallel is the internal battle that the finality of his football career is nearing.
“I was furious after the first Prep game, and I was angry at myself, because I felt I let the team down, I didn’t play four quarters and I dropped a few passes,” Coleman said, referring to Prep’s 24-16 victory over La Salle a month ago. “I love playing football. I get asked all of the time what my favorite sport is, football or lacrosse, and it’s the season that I’m in. It’s why this isn’t easy. I know I’ll play lacrosse again. I love playing football. I love playing for La Salle, all the guys and the coaches on the team. It’s a little upsetting, with all the memories and great things we did here. I want it to keep going, I want to be practicing in December.”
(Stats provided by Tedsilary.com)
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.