SHARON HILL >> It’s a long walk from Academy Park’s Knight Park to the locker rooms in the school building.
As his team and the coaches made that walk at halftime Friday night, AP head coach Jason Vosheski was trying to compose himself and formulate what he wanted to talk about during the break.
The Knights had not played a memorable 24 minutes.
“He had some things to say,” junior offensive tackle Jaion Smith said. “And he was loud.”
Second-seeded Academy Park (10-1), which got one touchdown and lost three fumbles in the first two quarters, responded to their coach’s halftime tongue-lashing by scoring four times in the third quarter en route to a 44-17 rout of No. 15 Radnor (4-7) to begin the PIAA District 1 Class 5A playoffs.
The Knights will return home for a second-round contest Friday against No. 7 Bishop Shanahan, which was a 41-7 first-round winner over 10th-seeded West Chester Rustin.
Radnor, which qualified for the playoffs for the first time, will conclude its season Monday night with its traditional matchup against Lower Merion. The 120th meeting between the schools will get under way at Harriton High at 6 o’clock.
Smith and his offensive linemates helped AP roll up 440 yards on 39 carries. Fumbles and penalties kept that total from being higher.
Kareem Burton dashed 64 yards on his first carry on the home team’s first snap after its first turnover.
The next two Knights drives ended on fumbles, and Radnor turned the second turnover into seven points as Kyle Addis hauled in a TD pass from Pat McDermott.
“The coaches wanted us to run the ball,” Smith said. Coach Vosheski “has a slogan that now that it’s the playoffs we’re on a 6-W mission since it takes six wins to be state champion.
“Now that this game is over, it’s a 5-W mission.”
Dazhon Miller (18 carries, 167 yards) got Academy Park going in the second half, sprinting 38 yards to score on the fourth play of the third quarter.
After Shymere Stroud turned an outstanding catch of a Taylor Moors’ pass into a 42-yard gain, Miller cashed in with a three-yard scoring run.
Sophomore Skylor Fillis expanded the lead by taking the snap on a fake punt and covered 36 yards for six more points.
“We tried that play in our first game of the season and it didn’t work because we had a penalty,” Fillis said. “Coach (David Vosheski) called it from upstairs. They’re always telling me to make use of my speed, and when I saw an opening I went for it.”
Fillis’s brother, Shannon, set up the fourth TD of the third quarter with an interception, and Moors and Demetrius Perkins got together on a 35-yard scoring pass play.
Junior Nate Holmes ran 55 yards on his only carry for Academy Park’s final TD, and Radnor got a scoring pass from Sean Mullarkey to Veron Haper with just under three minutes to play.
“We were asleep in that first half,” Jason Vosheski said of his Knights’ poor start. “And I think we were a little arrogant.”
Radnor coach Tom Ryan had plenty of positive things to say about both teams.
“We got beat by a very good football team,” Ryan said. “But we played hard, just like we’ve been playing hard all year. Our guys competed, and now they get to try to go out with a win Monday night.”
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