SHARON HILL >> Academy Park coach Jason Vosheski wasn’t happy.
His team, gifted the football after Chichester fumbled the opening kickoff Friday, had just turned it over on downs. The hangover from last week’s stunning loss to Interboro and a matchup with a less-than-challenging opponent was evident.
“Whenever you want to start playing, let me know,” Vosheski yelled at his team. “Embarrassing.”
The Knights started to play on the next drive and didn’t stop until the running clock kicked in during the third quarter. A needed rebound victory, 36-0 over the overmatched Eagles, closed their regular season at 9-1 overall and 4-1 in Del Val play.
They will be ready for a playoff game next week — opponent to be determined Sunday — in unfamiliar territory. Academy Park needed Springfield to lose to get the District 1 top seed out of Class 5A. It also needed Interboro to lose to earn a share of the league title. It got neither.
“I don’t care,” Vosheski said.
What he did care about was the clinic the Knights put on — once they woke up. The normally tough defense yielded a mere 39 yards to Chichester (3-6, 1-4). Teddy Wright and Dazhon Miller both had touchdown runs and fronted a ground attack that produced 234 yards. Taylor Moors chipped in with two touchdown passes, largely aided by superb individual plays from Kareem Burton and Skylor Fillis.
Academy Park led 15-0 after the first quarter and 30-0 at halftime. It scored on the opening possession of the second half to set off the running clock. The bad taste from the Interboro game was gone.
“Our defense and our offense, we really fell apart,” team captain Togba Porte said. “Even in the newspaper I saw that we lost all respect. That really hurt us. All week in practice we had to work hard, really make a statement for ourselves that we’ll come back strong.”
Miller scored on an 11-yard run. Jermal Martin returned a fumble 21 yards to add to the lead. Wright raced 69 yards to make it 23-0. Moors then hit Burton from 35 yards out just before halftime, and found Fillis with a 24-yarder to cap the scoring.
The first possession blues were long gone.
“We had a little bit of a letdown, we were a little sluggish — which I guess is kind of natural, I’m glad it wasn’t next week when it happened,” Vosheski said. “But the kids bounced back for the most part, so we’re happy.”
Now the Knights can turn their attention to the playoffs. They’ve been there before, claiming two of the last three district titles, but they haven’t been past that point.
That was close to Porte’s mind on Senior Night. What he wants, and what the Knights want, is a state championship.
“This year, I honestly do believe we have the team to make it that far,” Porte explained. “What we have to do is when stuff goes wrong — and I know stuff is going to go wrong — we have to stay together. If we all play (as a) team, team defense, team offense, then we’ll be good.”