FRANCONIA >> Souderton’s defense could be on to something.
From the moment senior defensive tackle Trevor Watts exploded through Penn Wood’s line to record a four-yard loss on the first defensive snap, the Big Red defenders set the tone. With a lot of preseason talk going toward the Indians’ stable of running backs, the defense was a bit under the radar, but content it would show just what it was made of.
The Indians’ defense turned in a strong first half effort, recorded three interceptions and two sacks as it powered Big Red to a season-opening 37-14 home win over the Patriots on Friday night.
“I was able to read the center, get a good jump on the ball, see the running back and make the play,” Watts, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound wall of a high schooler, said. “We knew we have a good front eight and we knew we could stop the run. It was all about limiting their athletes from getting into the space they wanted to.”
Watts, a tri-captain and also the team’s best offensive lineman set the initial tone, but he had plenty of hungry, angry guys behind him to keep it going. Senior co-captain Tycier Goods was all kinds of disruptive, picking up a sack, an interception, pressuring an incomplete pass and just making plays all over the field.
Big Red wasted little time getting its first points of the 2017 season, taking the opening kick and methodically driving down the field. While the initial drive stalled short of the endzone, kicker William Leyland drilled a 37-yard field goal with 5:11 left in the first quarter to put Soudy on the board.
“We have a lot of depth on offense and I’m real excited to work with some of these young guys who got their first taste of it tonight,” senior quarterback and co-captain Dean Dipisa said. “That’s a confidence-builder and a half right there. We worked on those first 10 plays all week and we came out and did exactly what we wanted.”
Penn Wood started slowly, with penalties and incompletions leading to punts on its first two drives and later a lost fumble that would set up a Souderton score. The Patriots couldn’t find much room for speedster back Answered Gleplay, thanks to Soudy’s big and angry front line.
Souderton’s second drive looked like it was also going to stall until quarterback Dean Dipisia hit Austin Miller for a 22-yard gain on third down. On the next play, Dipisa found a wide-open Brett Vince in the endzone for an 18-yard TD with 16 seconds expired in the second quarter.
The Patriots finally got something going when quarterback Desman Johnson Jr strung together four straight completions, but a flag, fumbled snap and strip-sack by Terrence Alfred with Anthony Blessing hopping on the ball put Big Red on the door again.
Dylan Auen pushed his way in from three yards out and a two-yard conversion put the Indians up 17-0.
“It is a beautiful thing and I’ve been telling anyone that wants to listen we have a bunch of backs that can run the ball,” Souderton coach Ed Gallagher said. “I’m not afraid to play freshmen, sophomore, senior, they’re all going to get their chance. I tell them, when you’re not getting the ball, you have to block for the other guys so when it is your chance, you make the most of it.”
Senior corner Oscar Hughes picked off Penn Wood’s second quarterback, Brian Parker and after a 19-yard return, set up Soudy again with a bit less than three minutes left in the first half. Four plays later, Jeremy Tammaro plunged in from a yard out to extend the home team’s lead to 24-0.
With Johnson back calling signals, Penn Wood caught a surge of momentum in the closing minute of the half. A tremendous catch by Kenendy Poles over a defender netted 44 yards on a third down play, then the two hooked up again for an 11-yard score with just 0.7 left on the clock.
As well as the defense played, it did give up a couple of long passes and Watts said there’s always room to improve. One thing he and Goods have tried to preach to their teammates is to never let the score impact how they’re playing and to always treat the situation as a 0-0 contest.
The third quarter was silent for both teams, although Souderton ended things on a low note when a series of penalties and losses turned a first and goal at the eight to a third and goal from the 28.
Piling on Penn Wood’s trouble was a rash of dropped passes. The Patriots had at least six drops, a couple of them by wide-open receivers.
Souderton’s defense came up with another stop early in the fourth, forcing a desperate Penn Wood to turn the ball over on downs. From there, the Indians ran it 18 yards, with Xarminto Lubuelo going in from four out for a score.
Poles, who was Penn Wood’s best player in the game, came down with a 36-yard pass then followed with a 25-yard TD grab while sliding along the goal line for his second touchdown of the contest. The junior wideout finished with 130 yards on seven receptions.
Souderton had a different player get in the endzone each time it scored when DeAndre Wakefield became the fifth scorer. Wakefield got a hole on the left side and turned on the burners for a 44-yard run.
The Indians face Quakertown next week with conference play already looming. After Friday’s performance, Watts thinks this defense can be something special.
“I’d like to limit teams to two scores per game, hopefully,” Watts said. “That’s the max I’d ever want to give up. I want us to be able to limit teams so if we’re not having a good game on offense, we can rely on our defense to back us up.”
Souderton 37, Penn Wood 14
Penn Wood 0 6 0 8 – 14
Souderton 3 21 0 13 – 37
S- William Leyland 37 FG 5:11
S – Dean Dispisa 18 pass to Brett Vince (kick blocked) 11:44
S – Dylan Auen 3 run (Two-point run good) 7:54
S – Jeremy Tammaro 1 run (Leyland kick) 42.5
PW – Desman Johnson Jr 11 pass to Kennedy Poles (two-point fail) 0.7
S – Xarminto Lubuelo 4 run (Leyland kick) 9:30
PW – Johnson Jr 25 pass to Poles (Two-point pass good) 4:11
S – DeAndre Wakefield 44 run (Kick blocked) 2:37
First downs 9 11
Rushes-Yards 19-47 41-1171
Passing 12-30-2-3 6-8-1-1
Passing Yards 145 63
Total Yards 192 234
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-2
Penalties-Yards 6-61 4-25
Punting 5-21 2-47.5
Rushing: PW – Answered Gleplay 11-45, Desman Johnson Jr 6-(-14), Edmund Dennis 1-9, Elijah Gleplay 1-7; S – Jeremy Tammaro 12-77, Trey Moklok 4-15, Austin Miller 4-20, Dean Dipisa 6-(-9), Nick Guthrie 1-(-4), Dylan Auen 3-(-7), Xarminto Lubuelo 3-4, DeAndre Wakefield 3-58, Oscar Hughes 1-6, Trevor Nase 1-1, Daniel Pineda 2-11, Jacob Horton 1-(-1)
Passing: PW – Desman Johnson Jr 10-20-2-0-138, Brian Parker 2-10-0-3-7; S – Dean Dipisa 6-8-1-1-63
Receiving: PW – Kennedy Poles 7-130, Mohamed Kamagate 1-8, Answered Gleplay 1-0, Elijah Gleplay 1-(-5), Tayshon Harmon 1-6, Rahiem Bowens 2-6; S – Austin Miller 4-26, Brett Vince 1-18, Daniel Pineda 1-19
Interceptions: PW – Lamine Diallo; S – Oscar Hughes, Tycier Goods, Andrew Vince