UPPER DARBY >> Bonner-Prendergast turned in a performance against archrival Cardinal O’Hara that would have made the Friars’ two sources of inspiration on the evening proud. Bonner held the Lions to 93 yards of total offense, picked off quarterback Tommy O’Hara three times and forced the visitors into more turnovers on downs, six, than they had first downs, four. The result was a 20-0, confidence-restoring victory on a night that celebrated the Friars community at large.
Earlier this week, Bonner defensive coordinator Jeff Connell had surgery that kept him off the sideline Friday. His presence was felt, however, late in the third quarter when the Lions turned a fumble recovery into a first-and-goal from the nine. The Friars, up 13-0, held.
“We knew we had to step up defensively,” said two-way lineman Louie Lombardo. “We had to get the shutout for (Connell).”
Lombardo led a gang of Bonner tacklers to stuff O’Hara’s sneak attempt from one yard out to preserve the zero on the scoreboard.
“Basically, it’s just confidence,” said Friars coach Greg Bernhardt. “We played really well defensively. They came with the mentality that (the Lions) could take the ball from the one and they wouldn’t score. And that’s what happened.”
On offense, Lombardo and the O-line bullied O’Hara’s defensive unit to the tune of 397 yards of total offense.
Running back Joe Hartley-Vittoria was the biggest beneficiary. He finished with 206 on the ground and two touchdowns.
“We felt our O-line was stronger than their d-line,” said Hartley-Vittoria. “We sealed the edges. I didn’t need to do much from there.”
Hartley-Vittoria scored on runs of 22 and 18 yards with nothing more than a few Lions’ fingertips keeping him from reaching the end zone on each. His first touchdown made it 13-0 Bonner after Jordan Mosley took a wide receiver screen 71 yards to open the scoring less than four minutes in. Hartley-Vittoria’s second score was the proverbial dagger. Following O’Hara’s sixth and final turnover-on-downs, the junior waltzed across the goal line to spot the Friars a 20-point advantage with 4:28 to play.
“It was our best game of the year,” Hartley-Vittoria said.
And it came on a night Bonner honored one of its injured teammates.
Prior to kickoff, the Friars retired former defensive standout Dave Garrison’s number 6 jersey. Garrison, a 2008 graduate, died in 2009 from injuries suffered in a car crash. His younger brother Brendon was, and will remain, the last Bonner player to wear 6.
“It’s awesome. It’s a great honor,” said Brendon Garrison. “More than anything, a lot of people came out to honor Dave, which is pretty special. It was great to share stories and reminisce.”
“Obviously we’re very honored,” said David Garrison, Brendon and Dave’s father. “What (Dave) did here at Bonner in his short time — you can just see what it meant to the community. He never gave up. He never complained during some trying times.”
Bernhardt, who served as the offensive coordinator under head coach Tom Oropeza during the Garrison’s era, called Dave the model Friar.
“He’s everything we talk about what we want Bonner football to be,” Bernhardt said. “(He was) a great, mature character. His teammates looked up to him.”
The Friars (4-5, 2-2 Catholic League) certainly lived up to Dave’s standard Friday. As for the Lions (1-8, 0-4), they continue to struggle with consistency. For three-plus quarters they hung in there with Bonner-Prendie. But ill-timed turnovers and an inability to move the chains derailed any hopes of an upset.
“Our defense played well. I told them I was proud of the way they fought,” said O’Hara coach B.J. Hogan. “Offensively, we weren’t very good. As the offensive coordinator and head coach, that’s 100 percent on me.”
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