St. Joe’s sophomore Armone Elem has big-time look

St. Joseph sophomore Armone Elem (23) carries the ball to the outside in the second half of the season opener against Elmwood Park. | Michael Jarecki/for Sun-Times Media
St. Joseph sophomore Armone Elem (23) carries the ball to the outside in the second half of the season opener against Elmwood Park. | Michael Jarecki/for Sun-Times Media

ELMWOOD PARK — St. Joseph running back Armone Elem was pretty confident he could be the top back for the Chargers this season.

He played with the varsity and JV teams last year as a freshman and even scored on a 96-yard touchdown run in a varsity game against St. Francis de Sales.

Friday night’s 13-8 loss to Elmwood Park was his first varsity start, but he was able to rely on his past experiences for some confidence.

“I wasn’t scared but I was nervous on Friday,” Elem said. “I wanted to be good and not make mistakes. I had butterflies but last year I learned I could play varsity football. So when the first ball was hiked, the butterflies went away and I was just playing football.”

On his second carry of the game, Elem showed a glimpse of just how good he can be. The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder took the handoff, fought through the hole and outraced everyone for an 86-yard touchdown.

“We weren’t getting too much through the spread offense so we went to the pro set,” Elem said. “My fullback [Shaquille Washington] made a good block and when I saw the hole my eyes got pretty wide. I knew I could beat the linebacker to the outside and I was gone from there.”

“He’s just electric,” St. Joe’s quarterback Chris Morrow said. “I’ve never seen anyone run like him, especially at this level with how young he is. He just has to keep doing what he’s doing.”

The Chargers were unable to find the end zone the rest of the night but Elem showed his potential to be a big-time player this year. He finished with 121 yards on 13 carries.

“He came in with confidence and we knew he could play ball,” St. Joe’s coach Anthony Griffin said. “He’s explosive and you’re always expecting him to make a play when he touches the ball. He’s a dynamic athlete and we’re happy to have him at St. Joe’s.”

Elem, who lives in Maywood and also was on the varsity basketball team last year, brings a lot of versatility to the field. In addition to his speed, he’s tough to bring down.

“I love contact and I’m not afraid to lower my shoulder,” Elem said. “So I can lower my shoulder and run you over but I’m also looking for space where I can make people miss.”

Griffin is excited to see how Elem continues to develop this season and beyond.

“He just needs to continue growing,” Griffin said. “I’m sure he’ll tell you there were some plays he wishes he had back. That just comes with being young. I think the sky is the limit for this kid. He’s a young kid who should get some Division I looks.”

The Chargers are back in action at 1:30 p.m. Saturday when they host Kelvyn Park at Elmhurst College.

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