SHARON HILL >> Togba Porte’s day was far from finished when the dismissal bell rang at Academy Park High School Friday afternoon.
Several hours later, the senior defensive end sang the national anthem before Academy Park’s 32-8 Del Val League victory over Penn Wood. And Porte did not miss a beat when the PA system went on the fritz for a few seconds.
At halftime, Porte was named homecoming king. Quarterback Taylor Moors, wide receiver Zach Cleary and guard Chris Thomas were also part of the homecoming court.
As for the game, Porte was busy there, too. He and fellow defensive linemen Amara Kenneth, Corey Simmons and Jango Keita spent much of the night in Penn Wood’s backfield and racked up 12 tackles for loss in 50 plays from scrimmage. Porte also scored a two-point conversion.
In other words, it was just another night at Knight Park for Porte.
“I like being busy,” Porte said.
Porte spent so much time chasing Penn Wood quarterbacks Desman Johnson Jr. and Javon Lindsey-Terrell that at times he looked like a runner in a relay race. That was not by design.
“I overpursued a little bit,” Porte said.
That’s understandable when you consider that Academy Park’s defense is in constant attack mode. The second-ranked Knights (8-0 overall, 3-0 Del Val) do not just want to stop the opposition, they want to dominate them, and did a pretty good job of that against the Patriots.
Academy Park held Penn Wood (6-2, 2-1) to 65 yards rushing on 30 attempts, 174 yards of total offense and eight first downs. The Knights also picked off two passes and forced a fumble. Answered Gleplay took a screen pass from Johnson 43 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to keep the Knights from posting a shutout.
Johnson was nearly sacked on the play and Gleplay had to break several tackles to break free and sprint to the end zone.
“Our chemistry is great,” Porte said of the defense. “Our talent is amazing. We’re truly blessed with a lot of talent. And we have speed, especially the defensive linemen. The slowest we run in the 40 would probably be like a 4.8. And the thing we look for is tackles in the backfield. All we want is tackles for loss. We don’t want them to get any yards. We want them to lose yards and that’s what we did tonight.”
It helps that the Knights have the kind of offense that can wear and opposing defense down with a steady diet of running backs Dazhon Miller and Teddy Wright.
“We’re the only spread offense in the country that runs the play clock down,” Academy Park coach Jason Vosheski said. “We can go up tempo, but we’d rather huddle up and slow it down.”
There’s no need to speed things up with the likes of Miller and Wright carrying the ball. Both are straight ahead, no-nonsense runners with speed.
Miller ran for 167 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries. He scored on runs of 40, 17 and one yard. Wright added 69 yards and one touchdown on 12 attempts. Overall, the Knights ran the ball 37 times for 254 yards.
“Dazhon’s a workhorse,” Vosheski said. “He can drag people.”
Assistant coach Mike Ewing Jr. calls Miller “Horse,” because of Miller’s ability to move masses of flesh. As Miller was moving yet another pile of Patriots forward during the third quarter, Ewing said, “The Horse is hungry tonight. The horse wants to feed.”
“We call him ‘GOAT,’ for greatest of all time,” Porte said of Miller. “We call him ‘Horse,’ because he can’t be tackled by one man.”
Miller, who lived in the William Penn School District before moving to Southeast Delco in the eighth grade, just smiled as Porte rambled on.
“I’ve got a lot of names,” Miller said.
It was a scoreless game until Miller changed that with a 40-yard bolt for a TD with 1 minute, 5 seconds left in the first quarter. Two possessions later, he was back in the end zone, on a third-and-goal from the 17-yard line, no less. Miller went right up the middle to give the Knights a 16-0 lead.
Miller wasn’t finished. Penn Wood cut the deficit in half on Gleplay’s brilliant catch and run with 2:17 to play in the second quarter. Miller got that score back on a one-run TD run on Academy Park’s first play from scrimmage in the second half. That run capped a six-play, 80-yard drive that was all Miller and Wright.
Wright carried the ball four times for 36 yards. Miller had two carries for 29 yard. The Knights were also aided by a 15-yard late-hit penalty against the Patriots.
“I pay all homage to the offensive line,” Miller said. “They open the holes and I just try to use my speed to get into the end zone.”
Porte stood a few feet away nodded in approval. And even though the game was over, Porte still had work to do. There were pictures to pose for before he would call it a night.
“I’m part of a lot of stuff,” Porte said.
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