Ahmad Ward hopes to be bigger part of Derry’s offense this season

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Friday, August 13, 2021 | 8:42 PM


A comic book and collectables enthusiast, Ahmad Ward owns a Funko Pop! Vinyl figure of Marvel character Thanos that he believes is worth $400.

“I got it for like $120,” he said. “It’s golden Thanos.”

Ward hopes his value increases on the football field this season for Derry. Just a sophomore, Ward is expected to be a key ballcarrier and a run-stopper at outside linebacker.

It all starts Monday when the Trojans open training camp.

“I want to help our young kids get better,” Ward said. “I want to be a special guy and lead our guys. I want to help them become starters and lead us to a championship.”

But isn’t Ward one of the young guys?

“Yeah, I guess,” he said. “The more we play together, the better we will get throughout the year.”

Ward carried just six times for about 40 yards last season — all in the North Catholic game — but expects to increase his workload and score multiple touchdowns.

He saw more time on defense and special teams. An experienced line could give him room to scatter.

“We liked what we saw from Ahmad last year,” Derry second-year coach Vince Skillings said. “He has power and speed. We think he can be a 1-2 (punch) with Eric Catone. He runs like that, too. They can be our Rocky Bleier and Franco Harris in the backfield. We’re stacked with guards, quick linemen.”

Derry will look to rebound from a 2-3 season that was cut short two games short by the pandemic.

“We’re going to have a young team, yes, but our kids love the challenge,” Skillings said. “We’re going to run the ball, yes, but we’re also going to tweak some things. We’ll have a Frankenstein offense: a little piece of this and a little piece of that.”

Ward is one of four brothers, all of whom were football players at Derry. Omar Ward, who played his high school ball at The Kiski School, was a quarterback, and 2020 graduates Isaiah Ward and Elijah Ward played running back and offensive lineman.

“I want to be like Omar because he was so successful,” Ahmad Ward said. “He pushed everyone to be better. I have talked to him a lot about that.”

Skillings, a Derry alum, knows about the rich tradition of Trojans running backs — and siblings.

“With the Wards, it’s like the Flack legacy,” the coach said. “Running backs have always come to the forefront here under coach (Tim) Sweeney. He would grind teams down with a power running game, but guys like Justin Flack or Justin Huss would break one. We do what we do as Trojans.”

Like Omar Ward, a pitcher at Seton Hill, Ahmad Ward also plays baseball. He is an infielder and pitcher.

He said Skillings, a former Ohio State standout who is open about his struggles with addiction and excess, has been an effective teacher for the Trojans.

“He’s taught me a lot,” Ward said. “He taught me that I don’t know everything. He taught us what it means to work in the offseason. My parents also taught us (siblings) how to be responsible.”

Ward wants to play the season for his late grandmother, whom he said died from covid-19 complications.

“I put the names of all of my (late) relatives on my baseball glove (in the summer),” he said. “She got to see me play a little bit on some broadcasts, so that was nice. I miss her because we were close.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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