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O’Hara can’t solve Allison, Malvern in season-ending defeat

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MARPLE >> When it’s the last game of a football season, the score doesn’t seem as important as it might earlier on the schedule.

It is more a time for seniors to get their last plays in, and for coaches and underclassmen to assess where the team stands going into next year.

Wednesday night, Malvern Prep defeated Cardinal O’Hara, 49-7. It was a close game for the first quarter, which ended with the Friars leading, 14-7.

But after the first period, it was all Malvern, which finished the season 9-2 and 4-1 in the Inter-Ac league.

The Lions finished 1-9, 0-4 in Catholic League play.

For junior quarterback Tommy O’Hara, it was the beginning of a new chapter in his football career.

He said it was a learning experience playing against Malvern, which defeated nationally ranked St. Joe’s Prep during the season.

“We had a lot of young guys starting for us here,” O’Hara said. “We came out in the first quarter and played well. We need to just keep building on that and at some point we’ll be able to compete with teams like Malvern.”

For many of the Malvern seniors, there was a feeling of disbelief after the game.

“It’s surreal,” said Ethan Bedwell, a 6-foot-1, 285 pound defensive lineman. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. They say it may take a few weeks, or even a month to realize I’m done. It went by so fast. I can vividly remember our trip to Chicago, for our first game. It was awesome. It’s a clear memory, it’s really weird how the whole time went by really fast.”

Malvern offensive lineman John Skrocki said he wanted to leave the program in the best shape possible moving forward.

“It’s been crazy. The cliché that it goes by quick, especially with football, and it really has this season,” said Skrocki, listed at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds. “We put in the work this past week and a half, we didn’t take this team lightly and we came out with obviously a solid ‘W.’ It’s great to finish out the season strong and set off the juniors on a high note.”

The Lions’ highlight of the night offensively happened on their first snap from scrimmage when junior running back Myles Henderson took the hand-off from O’Hara and raced 64 yards for a touchdown that tied the score 7-7. Henderson finished with 77 yards on 12 carries to lead Cardinal O’Hara.

“I thought our kids, they did some great things,” head coach BJ Hogan said after the game. “I talked to our defensive coaches and told them not to get frustrated. We’ve got things fitted up, we just weren’t making plays. We were missing tackles…and that’s the frustrating part. On fourth and four, we’ve got to defend it. If we make the play, it’s first and 10, we’ve got the ball.”

Malvern can look to the future with confidence. Sophomore running back O’Shaan Allison capped off his breakout season with 191 yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns all came in the first half.

Allison and the size Malvern puts on the line of scrimmage were just too much for the Lions.

“Everything they ran tonight we practiced for the last five days,” Hogan said. “Their big guys up front were leaning on us. All they do is wash you out of your gap and he (Allison) just cuts back. He’s a great player.

“They’re a great team and physically they got after us,” Hogan continued. “But our kids balled and we just have a ton of young guys.”

Hogan talked about his quarterback and what it will take for O’Hara to take the next step and have a solid senior season.

“It was his first year playing quarterback,” Hogan said. “He’s played quarterback for ten games. He’s got to have a

Cardinal O'Hara quarterback Tommy O’Hara looks for running room in the Lions' 49-7 loss to Malvern Wednesday night. (ROBERT J. GURECKI  -  DAILY TIMES)

Cardinal O’Hara quarterback Tommy O’Hara looks for running room in the Lions’ 49-7 loss to Malvern Wednesday night.
(ROBERT J. GURECKI – DAILY TIMES)

great offseason where he’s fully committed in the weight room. He’s got to work on throwing the football. It’s nothing that he doesn’t know. That first year is tough. He played receiver as a freshman and sophomore, he’ll get better as we go through Spring, we’ll get after it and get him better.”

Skrocki sounded like he wished he had another season with Allison.

“He makes the O-line look great,” Skrocki said. “We put in the work and do the best we can. The fruits of our labor are really flowing when he’s running. He’s just an awesome runner…electrifying.”

Allison credited his team’s attention to detail for their big night.

“It’s a result of a lot of studying during the week,” Allison said. “The O-linemen worked on their timing and technique in practice all week and we were able to bring it out here in the game.”

Allison has already created a buzz throughout the high school football scene. He created part of that legacy last night when, after losing a fumble in first quarter, he came back on the field and went on a personal tear, scoring four straight touchdowns.

“At the beginning of the game, I fumbled and I was really frustrated about that,” said Allison, who lists former Eagle Shady McCoy and Seattle star Marshawn Lynch as his favorite pro football players. “I decided to go on to the next play and take my anger out on my play. I try not to get upset. I try to play my best from the beginning of the game til the end.”

O’Hara said he needs to develop into a more complete signal caller.

“Yes, I’d like to be an all around quarterback,” O’Hara said. “And do whatever I can to win games.”

His goals for 2016?

“Playoffs, at least” O’Hara said. “And wherever we can get from there.”

 

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