PHILADELPHIA >> Archbishop Wood took the field Sunday afternoon at Northeast High school with a 1-2-1 record, a nearly unprecedented mark for the Vikings since Steve Devlin took over the program in 2008.
The Vikings two losses and tie are as a result of the caliber of opponents that they get to play by dominating the Philadelphia Catholic League and District 12 for nearly a decade.
During the first three weeks of the season Wood squared off with the no.2 ranked team in Ohio and no.13 ranked team nationally in Wayne High School. The Vikes then played the no.2 ranked team in New Jersey, 40th nationally in Bergen Catholic before playing Catholic League rival, no.1 in PA, 11th nationally ranked St. Joseph Prep.
“I wish we could have finished that game,” Wood running back/defensive back Shawn Thompson said of the tie against Wayne. “That was an eight-hour trip that we wanted to take advantage of because that was a long ride and we didn’t want to take the trip to lose. I could see it in all of our eyes that we did not want to lose that game.”
“If we win that’s such a confidence booster,” junior defensive end Matt Palmer added. “If we come out with a win there we just have so much momentum moving forward.”
Sunday afternoon featured a matchup with Archbishop Ryan where Wood got back to its winning and dominate ways with a 31-6 win, pulling its record back to .500 and improving to 2-1 in league play.
“We got a lot of room to improve,” Devlin said. “We still have to fix some things up and do some little things that will make us better.”
Wood won with excellent line play on both sides of the ball. Defensively the Vikings sacked Ryan quarterback Chris Reed six times while opening up running lanes on offense.
“I think our defense played pretty solid but obviously there’s a lot to work on,” Palmer said. “Big plays will happen here and there but for the majority of the game I thought we held them pretty well.”
While the win on Sunday was a complete team effort Wood running back/defensive back Shawn Thompson bared the fruits of the Vikings’ labor.
Thompson scored three touchdowns on offense including a 33-yard beauty towards the end of the third quarter to all but ice the game to give Wood a three-touchdown advantage.
“For my three rushing touchdowns I thank everybody,” Thompson said. “From my lineman to my quarterback getting me the ball. The lineman blocking for me and the receiver down field blocking I thank them too.”
The senior also made a game-changing play on defense as Palmer strip sacked Reed as Thompson scooped the ball up at the five-yard line and ran it in. The score gave the Vikes a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
“Our play is designed to have that open up pretty easy and it worked just like that,” Palmer said of the play. “I came in untouched (with a) wide open shot.”
“The (touchdown) on defense I got to thank my man Palmer because if it wasn’t for him it wouldn’t have been a touchdown for me,” Thompson said.
When standards are set at state championship or bust it’s difficult to meet such lofty expectation and while Wood knows it still has work to be done to be a contender it reminded those who needed reminding just who the Vikings are.
“I’m just looking to get better every day and every game,” Devlin said. “Our goal is to win at the end of the year and we got to put ourselves in that position.”