WHITEMARSH >> As the calendar nears closer to November, it is pretty safe to bet that is right around the time Archbishop Wood starts rounding into form as it prepares for another playoff run.
Dating back several weeks, Wood’s offense was searching for explosive plays to complement the ball-control drives it was putting together. The Vikings found them Saturday night as it scored four touchdowns, all of 30-plus yards.
“They’re a really good football team and they got some really explosive guys and that’s the problem,” La Salle coach John Steinmetz said. “At the end there we were gambling and just sort of putting everybody at the line of scrimmage.”
It’s hard to mention explosive plays and Wood and not mention running back Raheem Blackshear and receiver Mark Webb. Blackshear had a game-high 126 yards rushing with 49 and 36-yard touchdowns while Webb opened the game’s scoring with a 71-yard catch and run down the sideline.
“It’s been nice because we got a lot of weapons now,” Blackshear said. “We got Kyle Pitts (three catches for 40 yards), Nasir Peoples, Shawn Thompson, Mark Webb, they did a good job, it was a good game today, it was a lot of work.”
The explosive plays of Wood helped power it to an impressive 31-8 win over Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division opponent La Salle at Plymouth Whitemarsh.
Although it was the explosive plays of the Vikings offense, it was the smothering and dominant play of the defense that propelled them to the victory as it held La Salle to 220 total yards of offense.
“We had a gameplan to stop the run,” said Blackshear, who also plays defensive back. “That helped us a lot shutting (the run) down.”
Stopping the Explorers top back in Syaire Madden was the top priority of the Wood defense as it held him to 81 yards on 19 carries. A large part of that equation was the Vikings building up a lead and forcing the Explorers to go away from him a bit.
“We had to keep Madden from running wild on us,” Wood coach Steve Devlin said. “He got 200 yards against the Prep last week so we had to shut him down and I thought we did a good job of that.”
Archbishop Wood has bye this week before facing either Archbishop Carroll or Archbishop Ryan in the District 12-5A semifinals. The only questions with Wood this year are the same as every year. How good is it and is it good enough to claim yet another state title?
“I think we’re playing well, we still got a lot of room for improvement,” Devlin said. “We don’t ever look ahead, we don’t talk ahead, and we just look at trying to get better every day. We say we compete against ourselves to get better and we never try to take anybody for granted and I think that philosophy has worked.”