WARMINSTER >> Few things are as deflating to a defensive coordinator as the sight of Archbishop Wood senior Raheem “Speedy” Blackshear in space.
A guy who lines up in the backfield, the slot, out wide and even under center, Blackshear is a threat to score any time he touches the ball and has a little room to work with. That gamebreaking ability is a big reason he’s committed to play at Temple next year.
Saturday afternoon at William Tennent High School, Upper Darby got the full Blackshear experience in the first half as the senior scored three times as Wood romped, 40-7.
“He’s just so versatile and you can do a lot with him,” Wood coach Steve Devlin said. “On top of that, we got everybody involved today. Raheem and (Kyle) Pitts and (Mark) Webb, everyone really got the ball.”
An obnoxiously miserable day, a strong wind, on and off rain and temperatures hovering in the low 50s, Wood’s ground game was going to be its biggest asset. The opening kickoff proved to be a pretty nice helper as well.
Upper Darby booted the ball to Brad Otto at the Vikings’ 12-yard line. The sophomore got a few blocks, ran to the far side of the field and found a seam down the right sideline, taking the ball back 88 yards for a score 14 seconds into the contest.
From there, Wood’s defense and running game overpowered Upper Darby and set up everything the Vikings wanted to do on offense. Blackshear, who finished with 87 rushing yards and 79 receiving, all before halftime, scored on a 24-yard screen pass from Jack Colyar with 8:49 left in the first period.
“Their run game outside beat us up,” Royals coach Rich Gentile said. “Inside, the one positive I will take out of this game is I though defensively inside we played well. Outside they have so much speed and just have so much athletic ability that they get their guys in space and that’s trouble.”
Blackshear pushed the lead to 20-0 on a two-yard rushing touchdown with 3:09 left in the first quarter and scored for the final time of the afternoon with 2:59 left in the first half on a 13-yard reception, which made the score 40-0.
While Wood moved the ball almost at will in the first half, it didn’t have any plays of 25 yards or more. Gentile said he saw that as a positive too, if Wood was going to score, his defense at least made the Vikings work their way down the field.
“It’s still hard to do, you think you did a good job and you look up and they still gained 10 yards,” Gentile said. “That’s what we were trying to do. I don’t really have anyone who can match up with (Blackshear) so we tried to play a soft zone behind him and when he got the ball, to come up and try to put as many people on him as possible.”
Blackshear got 13 touches total, eight carries and five receptions. While he’s certainly capable of making things happen on his own, a lot of the plays Blackshear has are an indirect result of senior running back Shawn Thompson. Thompson had 52 yards on eight carries Saturday, but is the hard-nosed, between-the-tackles runner that pulls defenses in and opens up the space Blackshear thrives in. The senior also scored his team’s fifth touchdown, a one-yard run in the second quarter.
“Shawn Thompson does such a great job running the ball for us,” Devlin said. “Shawn’s really the key to the whole thing. He’s so physical running inside the tackles you just have to account for him and that opens the other things up.”
When Upper Darby had the ball in the first half, the Royals did not get very far. Wood’s defensive line was extremely effective, whether it was tackle Anthony Diodato or ends Kyle Pitts and Billy Shaeffer putting the pressure on quarterback Nathan Rimel.
The numbers told the entire story at halftime. Wood had 16 first downs, Upper Darby just one. Wood had 286 yards of total offense compared to just five for the Royals.
“We had some issues on the offensive line,” Gentile said. “I looked at them and they reminded me a little bit of some of the old CB West teams we used to play back in the day. They had kids who looked like inside linebackers playing up on the line and they’re quick and get up the field to cause havoc.”
After starting the season 0-2-1, Wood has won its last five heading into the regular season finale against La Salle. It’s been a growing process for some of the young players across the board on both sides of the ball, but Wood is looking in good form with the postseason looming.
“We’ve gotten better,” Devlin said. “It’s a young team still but our kids are growing up and really starting to execute. I’m happy with the progress they’re making.”
UPPER DARBY 0 0 0 7 – 7
ARCHBISHOP WOOD 20 20 0 0 – 40
AW – Brad Otto 88 kickoff return (Dan Zanine kick) 11:46
AW – Jack Colyar 24 pass to Raheem Blackshear (Zanine kick) 8:49
AW – Blackshear 3 run (kick fail) 3:09
AW – Nasir Peoples 16 run (2-point fail) 11:45
AW – Shawn Thompson 1 run (Zanine kick) 4:24
AW – Colyar 13 pass to Blackshear (Zanine kick) 2:59
UD – Nathan Rimel 8 run (Sammy Bewah kick) 5:12
First Downs 5 18
Rushes-Yards 21-22 31-180
Passing 5-22-0-0 11-15-2-0
Passing Yards 75 130
Total Yards 97 310
Penalties-Yards 2-20 4-40
Fumbles-Lost 5-1 0-0
Punting 7-28.6 2-39
Rushing: UD – Nathan Rimel 10-(-7), Nasir Greer 8-24, Jalen Camille 2-8, Chris Ripoli 1-(-3); AW – Raheem Blackshear 8-87, Shawn Thompson 8-52, Jalen Reynolds 2-16, Nasir Peoples 1-16, Jack Colyar –(-4), Eric Bauer 5-11, Jake Ross 2-(-6), Leroy Pendelton 2-5, Colin Murt 1-5, Tom Cattolico 1-(-2)
Passing: UD – Rimel 5-20-0-0-75; AW – Colyar 10-12-2-0-122, Ross 0-2-0-0-0, Cattolico 1-1-0-0-8
Receiving: UD – Camille 2-27, Obadiah Asare 1-7, Greer 2-41; AW – Blackshear 5-79, Kyle Pitts 4-35, Mark Webb 1-8, Colin Patrick 1-8