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Datres a nightmare for defenses

ASSOCIATED PRESS Loyalsock’s Kyle Datres, left, carries the football during the 2013 District 4 semifinals at Loyalsock.

The middle was clogged so Kyle Datres bounced the quarterback draw toward the left sideline where a Mount Carmel defender literally stood in his way.

No problem. Without putting on his cape, Datres soared like Superman into the night sky and jumped over the would-be tackler. The senior quarterback then sprinted by the remaining Mount Carmel pursuers and scored a game-tying 31-yard touchdown.

That gravity-defying play in the 2014 season opener topped the long Datres football highlight reel and was viewed thousands of time on maxpreps and YouTube. It was one of those plays which needed to be seen to be believed. One of those who watched it is now an elite NFL running back and Penn State legend.

While attending that year’s Maxwell Awards banquet, Datres met New York Giants running back Saquan Barkley. No introduction was needed. Barkley knew Datres from “The Leap” and was impressed.

When an NFL all-star is impressed, one gets an idea just how good Datres was. The thing is, as amazing as that play was, the only ones not too awed by it were Datres’ teammates. They had seen him make the plays few others can throughout their football journeys.

This was just Datres being Datres. On the football field he could be a video game come to life.

“I don’t know what the heck he’s doing sometimes. I don’t think anyone knows,” Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet said following a 2014 district semifinal win against Towanda in which Datres basically ran around the entire defense on a half-ending 29-yard touchdown which helped fuel a 50-21 win. “Everyone wants to lie and say they coach that. I didn’t coach him on half that stuff.”

Datres was a master at improvisation and, even if he and others did not know where he was going, he almost always ended in the right spot. He graduated as one of the most accomplished players in Loyalsock history, earning all-state honors three times, twice as a safety and then as an athlete his senior year. He topped 1,000 passing yards three times, 1,000 yards rushing and became the area’s first multi 1,000-1,000 passer/rusher of the 2000s. Despite not being able to play quarterback because of a broken hand suffered in his first high school game, Datres still topped 4,000 yards passing, 3,800 yards rushing and totaled 8,061 yards. He also produced 105 offensive touchdowns, running for 64 and throwing for 41. Only Dominick Bragalone and Darrell Blackman have run for more touchdowns in the 2000s.

Oh yeah, in addition to being one of the state’s premier playmakers and safeties, Datres also punted well, kicked and returned both kicks and punts. He was the ultimate Swiss Army knife and helped Loyalsock improve its win total in each of his final three seasons, helping it capture the 2013 HAC-II championship and reach the 2014 District 4 Class AA final. So good was Datres that even though he had verbally committed to play baseball at North Carolina by his sophomore year, he was still receiving Division I football interest the next few years.

“With Kyle Datres, he’s just a man playing against boys,” two-time all-state lineman Crae McCracken said in 2014.

Before he reached high school there already was a buzz surrounding Datres in basketball and baseball. He immediately created similar positive talk his freshman year playing football. Datres not only showed how good he was that year, but also how tough he was. The broken hand suffered in the season opener kept him from playing quarterback, but it could not keep him off the field. Essentially playing one-handed, Datres earned first team HAC-II honors, making 81 tackles and intercepting three passes. Just imagine what he could have done with two good hands.

Loyalsock did not have to wonder anymore and Datres started becoming one of the area’s all-time greatest weapons by his sophomore year. He threw for 1,289 yards and 10 touchdowns and ran for 894 yards and 19 scores as Loyalsock made a four-win improvement and reached the district playoffs for the first time in three years.

The quintessential Datres game came in Week 6 at Troy. One of the most athletic players in program history ravaged the 2013 district champions for 412 total yards and six touchdowns. Datres ran for 215 yards and four scores in addition to throwing for 197 yards and two touchdowns in the 60-35 win. He also made 10 tackles, four extra points and averaged 45 yards on his multiple kickoffs. Datres finished the year earning the first of his three all-state selections after intercepting five passes, averaging 4.7 tackles per game, returning a fumble for a touchdown and blocking a kick.

As good as he was as a sophomore, Datres always wanted more and never stopped working toward that goal. An athlete with a Michael Jordan-type competitive streak, Datres continued elevating his performance as a junior as he totaled 2,636 yards and 32 touchdowns. He earned all-state honors again at safety, but eight games into the season Datres felt like he had not done enough.

The Lancers were coming off a last-second loss at Towanda and were 5-3 with two tough games remaining at Lewisburg and against rival Montoursville. Datres did not let them lose either. He produced five touchdowns and sealed a 34-7 win against Lewisburg with a Pick 6, setting up a winner-take-all showdown against undefeated Montoursville for the HAC-II championship.

“I told my defense I haven’t played to the best of my ability this year,” Datres said after the Lewisburg win. “I told them I wasn’t going to let them down this week.”

He kept his word a week later as Loyalsock won the latest thriller in a series defined by them. Loyalsock trailed by a field goal in the third quarter and Montoursville appeared to be taking over, driving inside the red zone. Datres then recovered a fumble at the 16-yard line on the next play before engineering a go-ahead 84-yard touchdown drive which he capped with a touchdown run, weaving through a broken field.

Datres accounted for both touchdowns and was part of a stingy defense which held Montoursville to its lowest point total of the season as Loyalsock won its first league title of the 2000s, 14-10 en route to finishing the season 8-4 and making a three-win improvement.

“Loyalsock-Montoursville has been here for years and I’m just glad I got to be a part of it. The atmosphere felt like it was a state championship game,” Datres said. “We couldn’t even get to our locker room because there were so many people. It was a really nice environment and it made it a special game.”

Datres enjoyed a special season a year later.

Scrambling like Fran Tarkenton, running like Michael Vick and throwing like Aaron Rodgers, Datres put together his most dominant campaign as a senior, totaling 3,160 yards and 44 touchdowns. He ran for 1,735 yards and 27 touchdowns and threw for 1,425 yards and a career-high 17 touchdowns. Datres topped 100 yards 10 times and formed a potent two-headed rushing monster with fellow 1,000-yard rusher Marty Clark. Coaches could come up with perfect defenses and the defenders could brilliantly carry out their assignments, but there often was no defense for the plays Datres could make. By season’s end, he had accumulated 4,187 career passing yards and 3,856 rushing yards. Bragalone is the only area player who has produced more career offensive touchdowns than Datres’ 105.

Loyalsock’s final victory that season earned it a spot in the district championship. And Datres produced a typical performance. He ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 126 yards and two scores as Loyalsock beat Towanda, 50-21.

“It means a lot. We’ve gotten better each year and that’s all you can ask for,” Datres said. “With coach Van Fleet coming in here with his staff, they’ve done a great job with us and we’re excited.”

So were all those who watched Datres play.

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