HERSHEY>> No one was more surprised at the whipping Berks Catholic put on Wyomissing Friday night than the venerable head coach of the Saints, Rick Keeley.
Keeley just watched his players defeat their backyard rivals 34-6 to win the District 3 Class AA title at Hersheypark Stadium, in a rematch of last season’s title bout.
Friday’s margin of victory was the last thing either side expected — Wyo won the Berks League Section 2 title on the road in the final week of the regular season by six points, after beating BC in last year’s AA title game.
“I am shocked, too,” Keeley said, his eyes dancing with delight. “No. 1, though, Wyomissing is a great football team. And No. 2, Berks Catholic is a great football team.”
Berks Catholic (12-1) went deep-dive in the film room for this one, correcting things that plagued the Saints when they dropped the battle for the Berks 2 crown on the final night of the regular season.
“When we played them at our place (a 34-28 loss on Nov. 6), 10 of 11 are seniors on offense for them who start. They did things that got guys on our side of the ball thinking, and we weren’t always getting lined up right,” Keeley said.
“When (Wyo head coach) Bob Wolfrum sees we’re not lined up right, he’s gonna get his guys up in the same formation and they hurt us with big plays first time we played ’em. I told our guys if we just get lined up right this, we’re gonna be a tough out. Tonight, we fixed that. We played a great defensive game against one of the best offensive teams in the state.”
The Saints’ defense held Wyo (12-1) to 76 yards net rushing, a devastating result for a squad that relies heavily on its ground attack to be successful. The unit also picked off Spartans quarterback Charlie Tonneslan twice, including a second-half dagger that was returned for a touchdown, and sacked him five times.
Wyo could not find any offensive cohesion, any rhythm, any flow — in short, anything the squad could hang its hat on to move the football. Wyo’s leading rusher was Brandon Westwood, who finished with 45 yards on eight totes. Tonneslan was 5 of 14 passing for 126 yards, with one touchdown pass and two picks.
“Scheme-wise, I don’t think they were doing anything we couldn’t handle,” Wolfrum said, “but physically, we just got beat. We could not block them. We don’t know if they were on a mission or what. We had over 300 yards rushing the first time we played them. Heck, we couldn’t get a play to call our own tonight. We’d get one, then follow it up with a 10-yard loss.
“There was nothing I could call. Normally, you get into a rhythm. That’s what happens when you’re getting your butt kicked.”
It was the last Berks Backyard Brawl with implications beyond county lines: The Saints will go 4-A starting next season under the new six-classification PIAA; Wyomissing will compete at the 3-A level.
“The Backyard Brawl is an awesome thing to be part of,” Keeley said. “It takes a lot out of you as a coach and team to get ready to play it.”
Isaac Lutz was the definitive star of Friday’s finale. The senior running back/safety scored four touchdowns — three rushing and one on a 31-yard interception return. He rushed for 192 yards on 21 carries.
Two huge plays stood out on Lutz’s Friday night resume: An 81-yard sprint untouched into the end zone early in the second quarter to give the Saints a 14-0 lead; and that aforementioned interception, a 31-yard return for score from his safety spot that opened it up to a 28-6 with 2:34 to play in the third quarter.
“Isaac is the guy that we go to and he doesn’t know what it means to be slow” Keeley said. “He makes plays all over the field, offensively, defensively. There’s no quit in that young man, and the whole team feeds off of Isaac.”
BC took the opening kickooff and drove 71 yards in 12 plays for a quick 7-0 lead, with Lutz going in from five yards out. Two possessions later, he took a handoff from quarterback Terrance Derr on second-and-14 at the BC 19, blew off right tackle past the second level untouched, and raced down the right sideline for an 81-yard score to double the lead to 14-0.
Wyo’s only score of the game came late in the first half, and could be argued that it was a gift from the officials. A highly questionable pass interference call on a pass broken up on fourth down near the BC 10 kept a drive that would have died alive; three plays later, Tonneslan found Christian Martir for a six-yard scoring strike. But the PAT was blocked.
Earlier in the quarter, Brandon Workman fumbled the ball forward inside the Saints’ 10 and it was recovered by the BC defense, stuffing Wyo’s initial deep probe of the game.
The second half belonged to BC. Lutz’s 1-yard plunge made it 21-6 with 6:57 to play in the third quarter; it capped a seven-play, 51-yard drive. His 31-yard interception return later in the frame iced it.
Early in the fourth quarter, in the shadow of his goal post, Derr found wide out Tanner Pajakinas in single coverage on the outside with no deep help. Derr lofted the pass, Pajakinas ran under near the 30, and outraced his man the rest of the way for a 99-yard touchdown to close the scoring.
Like the rest of the Berks Catholic Saints on this night — can’t do better than that.
District 3 Class AA championship
at Hersheypark Stadium
Berks Catholic 34, Wyomissing 6
Berks Catholic – 7 7 14 6 — 34
Wyomissing – 0 6 0 0 — 6
BC – Isaac Lutz 3 run (Alex Gundersen kick), 6:49
BC – Lutz 81 run (Gundersen kick), 10:50
W – Christian Martir 6 pass from Charlie Tonneslan (kick blocked), 4:25
BC – Lutz 1 run (Gundersen kick), 6:57
BC – Lutz 31 interception return (Gundersen kick), 2:34
BC – Tanner Pajakinas 99 pass from Terrance Derr (kick failed), 8:08
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