PLAISTOW — Tyler Furey was on top of the world.
After rushing for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Timberlane’s season-opening win two weeks ago, the Owls sophomore halfback was bursting with excitement to turn on the New Hampshire “Friday Night Lights” high school football highlight show to hear his name.
Then it happened.
Timberlane led by “Derek” Furey, the anchor said.
“I just said, ‘Oh man!’” Tyler remembered with a laugh. “‘Figures.’”
Thus is life as the little brother of one of the most prolific backs in New Hampshire state history, who made his legend in the same school’s jersey.
“He came running into my room pretty mad,” said older brother Derek. “I gave him some trouble about it. But I am really so proud of him. To see the improvement he has made is amazing. He has grown so much. His potential is as high as he wants it to be, and he has already become a heck of a back.”
Tyler Furey has taken on the role as go-to running back in Timberlane’s run-heavy power-I offense this season with 304 yards — four behind Pinkerton star Manny Latimore for the area high this season — and three touchdowns in his squad’s first two games, following in the mammoth footsteps of his brother, Owls great Derek Furey (class of 2010), a former Eagle-Tribune All-Star who finished his career with 4,226 yards and 51 touchdowns.
“Tyler has stepped up and is a very good combination of size and speed,” said Owls coach Kevin Fitzgerald. “He’s similar and different from his brother. Derek was more shifty and Tyler is more of a power back. But one thing is that they both want the football. Derek would take it 100 times a game if you would give it to him, and Tyler is proving to be the same way.”
Growing up, Timberlane football was an obsession for young Tyler, watching his brother run over the New Hampshire football scene.
“All I ever wanted to do was play varsity football for Timberlane,” he said. “When I was a kid I always wanted to be the ball boy so I could get as close to the field as possible.
“Watching my brother Derek play was amazing. I didn’t really understand the game when I was younger so I didn’t know just how good he was. But I thought it was so cool to hear his name over the speaker and hear everyone cheering for him. I wanted to be like him. I believe my brother is the best, or equal to the best running back in state history. And my other brother (2007 Eagle-Tribune All-Star lineman) Mike was a great player too, but he doesn’t think he gets the credit because he was a lineman.”
By third grade, Tyler was on the football field in the Plaistow youth football program, wearing his brother’s No. 44.
“He always wanted to wear my number and was always asking me about the game,” said Derek, who is now an electrical engineering student at Northern Essex Community College. “He was a little guy and tried to run around people then.”
Three years after Derek’s career wrapped up, Tyler found himself following his brother’s path when he made the Owls varsity team as a freshman.
“It was a lot of pressure being a little freshman playing against these seniors that were men,” said Tyler. “I was really nervous, and people were talking about me because I was Derek’s brother.
“But by the third game when I saw a few more carries (team-high 45 yards) I started to get a little more comfortable. And when I rushed for my first touchdown, a long (47-yard) score against Merrimack I started to calm down.”
Furey finished his freshman year with 266 yards on 45 carries and three scores in limited duty. He then hit the gym with his brother as trainer to prepare him for his sophomore season.
“He’s my brother and I want to help him out all I can,” said Derek. “We lift and run. I try to coach him up the best I can, watch him and give him advice like cut tighter and don’t spin. He has worked so hard to become the player he is becoming.”
Now up to 200 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than a season ago, Furey has his eyes set on fulfilling and exceeding the expectations of his last name.
“I know people are focusing on me more because of my name,” said Tyler, who is also a standout in lacrosse. “I know I am under a microscope. It’s a lot of pressure, but I take it in stride. I don’t let it get to me. I want to be as good as he was.
“We are very different. Derek was a lot shifter than I am. I hit the hole as hard as I can and try to run over people. I am over the fact that you can’t run around everyone. I understand I have to be aggressive and run over smaller guys.”
Furey is off to a fine start in 2013, rushing for 166 yards and two TDs in the season-opener and 138 yards and another score in game No. 2. And his brother feels like this could just be the start.
“He is already so dangerous with the ball and he really still a raw talent,” said Derek. “He is still young and developing his running style. He needs to remember you don’t always have to run over the cornerback. But he is learning, improving and already has a great mind for the game. He can go as far as he wants.”
D the key for Raiders
UNH-bound Central Catholic defensive back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie knows his Raiders have their hands full today when they host Division 1 Super Bowl champion St. John’s Prep, led by Maryland recruit Johnny Thomas.
How dangerous is Thomas? He already has rushed for 424 rushed yards and five touchdowns in two games this year after going for 1,794 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
“We need to find some way to slow down Thomas,” said Drummond-Mayrie. “We have to hit him and make him pay when he runs the ball. We know how talented he is, but our defense has done well so far.
“But we also know the Prep is going to score, so we have to play offense.”