NORTHAMPTON >> Archbishop Wood senior offensive lineman Anthony Diodato knows better than to stand and watch when one of his teammates rips off a big scoring play.
So, on top of blocking and trying to blow up Whitehall’s offensive line from his defensive tackle position, Diodato found himself hustling downfield quite a few times Friday night. Not that he minded of course, because it meant one of his guys was taking advantage of he and the fellow linemen’s blocking to put up points.
Wood’s line was excellent, opening up all sorts of holes as the Vikings routed Whitehall 56-13 in a PIAA 5A football quarterfinal at Northampton High School.
“I always run down the field,” Diodato said. “I remember last year, Coach (Steve) Devlin would get really mad at people for not going and celebrating so I always make sure I get down there and celebrate with them.”
The Vikings only threw five passes all night, though one was a 71-yard touchdown to senior receiver Mark Webb that made it 14-0 and put Wood in the driver’s seat. The rest of the work was done on the ground, where Wood just mauled the Zephyrs.
Shawn Thompson continued his big postseason with 284 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries, his physical running wearing down Whitehall over the course of the game. Fellow senior Raheem Blackshear was right there to spell Thompson with 135 yards and three scores of his own on 15 carries, his shiftiness allowing the Temple commit to find extra yards.
In total, Wood rushed for 511 yards between the starters and the reserves who played out the fourth quarter.
“The way (Whitehall’s) linebackers were flowing over top, we had to prepare and we changed a lot of things with how were blocking,” Diodato said. “We had some calls and some checks on the line, we rolled with that and tried to see what worked.
“If you give them a little hole up front, they have the moves and the speed, they’ll take it and keep going.”
Wood began with the ball and was in a bit of trouble on its first drive, facing a 3rd-and-11 on their own 28 when sophomore quarterback Jack Colyar hit Blackshear for a 23-yard gain to move the chains. The next play, Thompson went 49 yards to the house for the all-important first score.
“We’re a team that always wants to set the tempo,” Thompson said. “Us scoring got into their heads.”
The Vikings respected Whitehall’s offense, especially its passing game, so getting on the board first was huge. After the Vikings’ defense, which was solid all night, forced a punt, Colyar went over the top and deep to Webb, who hauled in the 71-yard score.
Whitehall did come back and score after the Webb TD, on a 26-yard pass from Zach Gilbert to Dezmond Boykin, the Zephyr’s dangerous wideout, on fourth down.
Wanting to both get the margin back up and keep Whitehall from doing that again, the Vikings turned to their runners. With the line in sync and grating a path up and down the field, it was just what Wood needed to blow the game open.
“We’re young there and I think sometimes those guys get overshadowed by the big play guys we have,” Devlin said. “They’re the grinders. You win games up front and hats off to them, they came out and executed and took this personal. We wanted to keep (Whitehall) off the field because their offense has been putting a ton of points up, so we said let’s put it on the backs of the o-line.”
Blackshear scored the next three scores for Wood, a natural hat-trick of sorts to give the Vikings a 35-7 lead at the half. Between Blackshear’s second and third scores, the Wood defense made a goal-line stand with Diodato providing the stop on a fourth down with the ball not even a yard from the endzone.
Wood followed that with a 95-yard scoring drive, then put the game away on their second possession of the third quarter. Thompson got a seam down the right side and erupted through it for a 69-yard score, putting the running clock into effect.
“As a team, we all thought we played very well,” Thompson said. “We were out here to get better. No matter what, we always want to get better in every aspect of the game. I’m thankful for my linemen, my line gave me the holes I hit to get into the second level and my wide receivers’ downfield blocking was fantastic. Everything for me to get there was fantastic.”
Adrian Lambert added a 15-yard score and reserve Chris Blackstone finished the Wood scoring with a three-yard run. Gilbert had an eight-yard keeper at the final horn for Whitehall.
The Vikings face District I champion Academy Park in the state semifinals next week at a time and site to be determined.
“Honestly, I’m not surprised with the way we’re playng,” Diodato said. “We’re practicing really hard. States is two weeks away, that’s our end-all, be-all. We see that as the prize and that’s what we’re working for right now.
ARCHBISHOP WOOD 21 14 14 7 – 56
WHITEHALL 7 0 0 6 – 13
AW – Shawn Thompson 49 run (Dan Zanine kick) 9:51
AW – Jack Colyar 71 pass to Mark Webb (Zanine kick) 8:52
W – Zachary Gilbert 26 pass to Dezmond Boykin (kick good) 5:31
AW – Raheem Blackshear 14 run (Zanine kick) 2:27
AW – Blackshear 6 run (Zanine kick) 10:18
AW – Blackshear 16 run (Zanine kick) 4:52
AW – Thompson 69 run (Zanine kick) 5:34
AW – Adrian Lambert 15 run (Zanine kick) 53.3
AW – Chris Blackstone 3 run (Bob Hennessey kick) 4:04
W – Gilbert 8 run (no kick) 0.0
1st downs 18 8
Rushes-Yards 38-511 29-86
Passing 3-5-1-1 8-29-1-1
Passing Yards 103 150
Total Yards 614 236
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-60 2-10
Punting 0-0 5-32.6
Rushing: AW – Shawn Thompson 15-284, Raheem Blackshear 15-135, Jack Colyar 1-1, Adrian Lambert 1-15, Chris Blackstone 2-8, Eric Bauer 4-68; W – Tavion George 10-33, Braxton Marrero 10-34, Dezmond Boykin 2-2, Ethan Parvel 2-1, Zachary Gilbert 4-11, Dabriel Ayala 1-5
Passing: AW – Colyar 2-4-94-1-1, Jake Ross 1-1-9-0-0; W – Gilbert 8-29-150-1-1
Receiving: AW – Mark Webb 1-71, Blackshear 1-23, Bauer 1-9; W – Kasai Harrison 3-51, Boykin 3-76, Devin Castro 2-23
Interceptions: AW – Blackshear; W – Castro