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Germantown Academy’s toughness shows in comeback win over West Catholic

WHITEMARSH >> Perhaps the biggest difference in the Germantown Academy football program since Matt Dence took over five years ago is the team’s toughness.

Saturday, having just given up a touchdown after a couple of questionable calls, the Patriots took over with 4:53 left against West Catholic. After going 73 yards, GA scored and made it hold up in an 18-12 win that showed that measure of toughness that’s now in the program.

West Catholic was no pushover, and it took a tough effort for the Patriots to prevail.

“We talk about grinding, it wasn’t how we drew it up, we think we’re a better offense than that, but they’re a good defense,” Dence said. “They have a lot of guys that can just Velcro receivers. Being able to establish the run a little bit was good.”

The Burrs’ blend of speed, strength and size on defense presented a lot of trouble for GA and quarterback Kyle McCloskey didn’t post his usual type of numbers. But the senior made the plays that mattered, including the eventual game-winning nine-yard TD pass to Nick Picariello.

So, GA leaned on its defense and the ground game to battle through. The numbers again weren’t gaudy, but the tailback duo of Picariell0 (48 yards) and KJ Cartwright (37 yards) got the yards they needed. Cartwright was the main guy in the first half, but after the intermission, Picariello took the bulk of the carries.

A 5-foot-8, 188 pound pile-driver, Picariello is the straight-ahead hard runner of the two while Cartwright is a little more shifty and speedy, though he also runs hard. With West having the type of kids who could cut off Cartwright on the edges, Picariello’s style was a good change of pace.

“I think I helped a little bit by running straight downhill,” Picariello said. “They have some stronger kids and they’re all fast so getting upfield that way, it’s harder to take someone down who’s going straight down the field.”

GA got on the board first with a first quarter 27-yard field goal from Vince Capone but lost the lead with 1:33 left in the second quarter. West quarterback Da’vion Kidd-Jackson hit Amadou Barry for a 30-yard pass. With no kicker, the Burrs attempt a two-point try on even score, but failed both attempts on Saturday.

Barry had a nice game, hauling in 10 catches for 133 yards, showing some good hands in wet weather and making a number of guys miss tackles. The score was the exact kind of play Dence feared when planning for West’s roster.

“I was worried about their overall speed, they’re all fast, they have guys that can just fly,” Dence said. “I was scared of everyone. But I love our kids and when you have sure tacklers like Pat McGettigan, Tanner Long, Matt Gorman, Shane Harkins, Mike Reilly, you feel good about it.”

There was no one singular hero for the Patriots on defense, just a lot of guys making plays. McGettigan was strong all game, as was his younger brother Jimmy, big Elijah Wroten was a force up front and Gorman continued his unheralded but stellar play at linebacker.

In the secondary, senior Justin Connors was an impact player, knocking down three passes despite giving up inches and speed to the West guys he was covering.

“It’s his first year starting, talk about a guy I want to give some praise to,” Dence said. “He just made plays. Those receivers are a lot faster than him.”

Long also got involved on the offense, scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a four-yard pass from McCloskey in the third quarter to give GA a 10-6 lead. Again, the Burrs rallied back and took a 12-6 lead with 5:03 left in the game when Supreme Kemp drove his way in from a yard out.

The GA coaching staff was not happy with several spots and a ruling on a pass completion from backup quarterback Anthony Mirabile to Barry during the drive. Another flag brought back a nice return by Tommy Diver, giving the Patriots the ball at their own 27.

“I was very confident,” Picariello said. “We had been running the ball pretty well. I want to thank my linemen because they pushing and because of that, I was getting almost five yards per carry. I was running up the field on that last drive.”

Picariello ran five times on the final drive, picking up 13 yards, but it was a six-yard carry that crossed midfield that really helped GA. After the play, West was flagged for a 15-yard penalty, moving the ball all the way to the Burrs’ 31-yard line.

An 18-yard completion by McCloskey to Khalil Ashley-Darrah put the Patriots in first-and-goal and on second down, the game-deciding call came down. It called for McCloskey to roll out in a boot to the left with Picariello in the flat.

“I expected it (to come his way),” Picariello said. “In practice we work on it, we work on catching in the flat. It’s a tough catch, but I work at it so I can get it done.”

The senior caught the ball at the five, eluded a tackler and got into the endzone.

“Nick’s a bull, he’ll put his thigh pad through a facemask to get you a first down,” Dence said. “That’s what you love about Nick. He’s a tough kid.”

West tried one last play to attempt to tie and win the game, but a runner advancing a lateral was ushered out of bounds by Reilly after the final horn to seal up the win.

GA proved its toughness on Saturday, the result of four plus years of the coaches demanding more from their players in all facets. It’s also a reflection of the team’s senior class.

“My grade as a whole, we’re pretty tough kids,” Picariello said. “We don’t take losses. We jump back up and keep fighting.”

WEST CATHOLIC 0 6 0 6 – 12

GERMANTOWN ACADEMY 3 0 7 8 – 18

1st Quarter

GA – Vince Capone 27 FG 4:39

2nd Quarter

WC – Amadou Barry 30 pass from Da’vion Kidd-Jackson (2-point fail) 1:33

3rd Quarter

GA – Tanner Long 4 pass from Kyle McCloskey (Capone kick) 5:43

4th Quarter

WC – Supreme Kemp 1 run (2-point fail) 5:03

GA – Nick Picariello 9 pass from McCloskey (McCloskey to Khalil Ashley-Darrah) 35.8

Team Statisitics

WC GA

First Downs 10 12

Rushes-Yards 25-99 38-107

Passing 14-25-1-0 12-18-2-0

Passing Yards 167 117

Total Yards 266 226

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0

Penalties-Yards 4-39 3-25

Punting 5-20 5-29.6

Individual Statistics

Rushing: WC – Da’vion Kidd-Jackson 7-12, Calil Wortham 7-21, Supreme Kemp 5-14, Jacir Savoy 4-36, Anthony Mirabile 2-16; GA – KJ Cartwright 14-37, Nick Picariello 11-48, Kyle McCloskey 13-22

Passing: WC – Kidd-Jackson 9-19-1-0-0-102, Mirabile 5-6-0-0-65; GA – McCloskey 12-18-2-0-117

Receiving: WC – Amadou Barry 10-133, Tajh Powell 1-14, Rovny Dasilva 1-17, Kemp 1-3; Cartwright 1-19, Santino Miriello 4-12, Mike Reilly 2-42, Tanner Long 1-4, Mike Patterson 2-13, Khalil Ashley-Darrah 1-18, Picariello 1-9

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