Dave Wood admits to feeling a little apprehensive about Friday night’s game at Garnet Valley. The Ridley coach’s son, Dave, is a senior linebacker for the Jaguars.
“In some ways, I’m really looking forward to this game, and in some ways I can’t wait for it to be over,” Wood said, laughing.
Wood resides in Concord, “literally across the street” from the school, and is coaching against his son in the biggest game of his young high school career.
No pressure, right?
“Hey, if nothing else,” he said, “it should be a lot of fun.”
Wood’s first two games have been a big success. With his college background, he has breathed new life into a program that hasn’t qualified for the District 1 playoffs since 2012.
You could even say, the Green Mystique is back.
Can he make it three in a row?
The revitalized Green Raiders, who shut out Haverford, 7-0, in Week 2, will look to snap a three-game losing streak against the Jaguars at Moe DeFrank Stadium Friday night. Kickoff is 7 o’clock.
Cade Stratton’s fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Liam Wright was the difference in Ridley’s 7-0 triumph over Haverford, the defending Central League champions. While the Green Raiders are on the rise, last season’s champs fell to 0-2.
Wood’s Ridley squad has dominated with defense and a run-first offensive attack. In a shellacking of Harry S. Truman in Week 1, there was no reason for Stratton to attempt more than three passes. In last week’s defensive duel with Haverford, Stratton connected on 6 of 11 attempts for 88 yards. Wright was the recipient of all six completions. Stratton, Malik Young and Brock Anderson are Ridley’s top playmakers.
Ridley’s defense has allowed only six points in two games, while Garnet Valley exploded for 66 points in its win over Upper Darby in Week 2. So, you figure something has to give.
GV quarterback Nick Juliano ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns, while Matthew Lassik and Kevin Bertone each recorded two scoring scampers against Upper Darby. The Jags’ defensive unit held Upper Darby to minus-44 yards rushing.
As Wood searches for his third high school coaching victory, Garnet Valley boss Mike Ricci is four away from 200 in his remarkable, 30-year tenure with the Jaguars.
Although it’s still early, and teams such as Springfield and Marple Newtown don’t want to hear this, the winner should be considered the favorite to capture the Central League title. Ridley last won the title in 2012, while Garnet Valley’s most recent championship season was 2013.
“It’s big in the sense that, right now, Garnet is the top team in the conference playing very well,” Wood said. “They do a tremendous job every year. That’s something we want our kids to understand, how to do the little things, and to do them well over and over. But we still have seven games after this one, and every one of them is big. I don’t want to oversell this game, but I don’t want to undersell it, either.”
Leave it to the local press to oversell it.
Here are a handful of other games to watch this weekend.
Radnor (1-1) at Marple Newtown (2-0), 7
After a lopsided victory on opening night, the Raiders hit a snag in their Week 2 meeting with West Chester East. They were missing their two stars on offense, quarterback Pat McDermott and running back Jack Horvath, due to injury. The loss of McDermott and Horvath led to a porous offensive display. The Raiders committed four turnovers and mustered negative rushing yardage in a 23-0 defeat.
Meanwhile, the Tigers continued to roar. Junior Anthony Paoletti was 8 of 10 passing for 209 yards and two TDs in a 35-14 rout of Penncrest. Since the final week of the 2014 season, the Tigers are 13-3 and averaging 25.8 points per win.
Upper Darby (0-2) at Springfield (2-0), 7
The Royals had no answer for Garnet Valley’s high-octane veer offense in last Friday’s 66-22 punishment. Last season’s Central League runner-ups allowed 413 yards rushing en route to their second consecutive loss. The lone bright spot was quarterback Nate Rimel, who threw for a single-game Upper Darby record of 334 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
The Cougars destroyed Conestoga, 41-3, behind three touchdowns from Joe Kennedy (two receiving, one punt return) and a defense that yielded negative-6 yards rushing on 22 carries. Pat Clemens led Springfield’s secondary with two interceptions.
Academy Park (2-0) at Bonner & Prendergast (1-1), 7
The Knights have played with proverbial fire in back-to-back weeks. Their sheer talent pushed them to a 2-0 mark, a record that looks prettier than their play would suggest. They won ugly last week over Unionville, a 22-18 decision fueled by Dazhon Miller’s 170 yards on the ground.
The Friars were rolled over by Jaye McNeil (257 yards, three touchdowns) and Archbishop Ryan last Saturday, 33-12. Bonner & Prendie’s Evan Raiburn threw for 168 yards and two TDs in the loss.
Haverford School (1-0) vs. West Catholic (1-1), 7:30
Any doubts the Ford would take a step back following a perfect season have been temporarily squashed. Last week the Fords pummelled host Del Val Charter, 43-6, as senior Malik Twyman spearheaded an explosive offensive attack with 128 yards and two touchdowns. It was the 20th straight victory for Haverford School, which hasn’t lost since Aug. 30, 2014. The winning streak is a program record.
The Burrs are looking to rebound from a 28-7 loss to Roman Catholic. Da’vion Freeman had completed 20 of 37 pass attempts for 208 yards. Talented wide receiver Amadou Barry, who is garnering interest from Temple and West Virginia, has nine catches in two games.
The game will be held at West Catholic’s home field at Widener University’s Leslie Quick Stadium.
To contact Matt Smith, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith