WHITEMARSH >> It was Trick or Treat night at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School Friday when Father Judge paid a visit to La Salle.
The trick came as the two teams took the field and the Explorers discovered Judge was without six starters, including starting quarterback Rob King and soon-to-be Division One running back Yeedee Thaenrat.
The treat followed as the Explorers scored on five of their six first-half possessions en route to a 41-14 win that assured the Explorers of the home-field advantage when the two sides meet in two weeks at the outset of the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs.
Cynics, of course, would note that, with nothing to play for and with home field in the PCL being more a case of field availability than an actual advantage, that Judge was choosing to sit said starters with the idea that it will have a new slate when the all-important playoff game is played.
Don’t count La Salle head coach John Steinmetz among the cynics.
“When we found out they six kids out, it was a different game,” Steinmetz said, “but I’ve known Mike McKay for a long time and I don’t believe he’d do anything like that.
“He’s a class guy.”
Whether the Crusaders did or didn’t do what they could have easily been accused of, it made what could have been a terrific game a one-sided rout that was over by halftime.
La Salle scored five touchdowns on six series, posted 35 points and then watched its reserves play all but one possession in the second half.
“Our coaches preached coming out strong and getting stronger as the game went on,” said Explorers playmaker Nick Rinella, who caught two touchdown passes and ran for another score. “We wanted to play four strong quarters, and I think that’s what we did.”
It began with a gift from the Crusaders, when punter Joe Gallagher was ruled down when his knee touched the ground while fielding a snap. It gave La Salle a first down at the Judge 34, and La Salle scored three plays later when quarterback Chris Ferguson hit Troy Holland over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown.
After Judge’s enusing possession ended with a fourth down at its own 4-yard line, the Explorers took over following a punt at the Crusaders 26.
Four carries by Syaire Madden later, it was 14-0.
“Our offense played well,” Steinmetz said. “The kids are getting better every week and getting used to our scheme.
“We want to get the ball into the hands of Isaiah Jones, (Rinella) and Sy, and we were able to do that tonight.”
With Jones taking over at quarterback on the next La Salle series, the Explorers went 66 yards on seven plays to make it 21-0.
Jones found tight end Liam Trainer twice on the march for 31 yards, then added a 13-yard touchdown run.
The rout was on, and Ferguson completed it with touchdown darts to Rinella of 34 and 25 yards to kick in the running clock for the second half.
La Salle was on the winning end, and not particularly concerned with who did or didn’t play on the other side of the field.
“We heard rumors,” said Rinella when asked about the Judge lineup, “but we were ready to play regardless of who was on the field.”
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