UPPER DUBLIN >> It was pick your poison for Archbishop Carroll on Friday night against La Salle.
If the Patriots weren’t getting beaten by one offensive playmaker wearing navy blue and gold, they were getting beaten by another in the Explorers 42-6 blowout Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division win at Upper Dublin High School.
Quarterback Danny Solecki? Check. He threw for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He did so with a calm, commanding presence in the pocket courtesy of sound protection from his offensive line.
Wide receiver Brett Mallee? Check. Solecki’s target of choice on the night, he secured 5 catches for 75 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown.
Running backs Octavious Carter and Manny Quiles? Double check. They combined for 167 yards on the ground on 37 carries. They scampered for big play after big play. Carter had three touchdowns, one of them going for 51 yards. Quiles added a 41-yard touchdown himself.
“It’s nice when you can hand the ball off four straight times and get good yards,” Solecki said.
La Salles Manny Quiles gains yardage during the Explorers’ game against Archbishop Carroll at Upper Dublin High School on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)
As for the La Salle defense? Sure, why not. They gave up some big plays but Archbishop Carroll didn’t have much at all to show for it when the clock struck zero on the fourth quarter. It was the old “bend but don’t break” adage come true. The only score they allowed came following a muffed punt return, one of two Explorer turnovers in the game.
“I thought (the defense) played well, “ La Salle head coach John Steinmetz said. “I thought we lost our form there at the end of the second quarter, but other than that I think our defensive front continues to drive and they’re playing really well. As long as we keep getting that kind of performance out of them, I think we’ll continue to play well.”
Despite a convincing win in front of a satisfied home crowd, it wasn’t all positive for Solecki and Steinmetz.
Not everything shows up on a stat sheet.
“There are definitely a lot of things to work on,” Solecki said. “Just small things, like getting lined up correctly, especially me with my mechanics. I have to keep my feet, set my base better and extend my wrist a little bit better. That’s part of the process. It’s just something that’s unacceptable in our program. We can’t afford to have those miscommunications.”
Archbishop Carroll quarterback Kamal Gray finds some running room during the Patriots’ game against La Salle at Upper Dublin High School on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)
Perhaps Solecki’s most obvious mechanical breakdown came in the second quarter when he under-threw a wide open Marvin Harrison Jr. in the end zone. But he did what senior quarterbacks so often do against bad defenses — he got the next one, this time coming in the form of a 15-yard touchdown. The recipient was Harrison Jr., of course.
Harrison Jr. certainly has the physical resemblance of his father, an NFL Hall of Famer and Peyton Manning’s all-time favorite target. He’s not necessarily big in stature but is lengthy and the athleticism is apparent. But from a football standpoint the freshman still has plenty of room to grow.
“I think (Solecki) under-threw it a little bit but (Harrison Jr.) probably needed to adjust to it too,” Steinmetz said. “He was pretty wide open. I don’t know if it was miscommunication, I just think that he needed to adjust. He was wide open and needs to make that catch.”
Both Steinmetz and Solecki noted that Harrison Jr. has shown no signs of performing under any pressure given his father’s fame and notoriety on both a national scale and within the Philadelphia region. Steinmetz called him “very business-like” while Solecki said he is adapting well to his new role as a varsity freshman.
La Salles Octavious Carter is tackled near the end zone during the Explorers’ game against Archbishop Carroll at Upper Dublin High School on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)
Harrison Jr.’s touchdown reception was his only catch of the night, and he also lost a fumble on his only carry. Surely the Explorers have big plans in mind for him as players like Mallee, a junior, and senior wideout Troy Holland prepare to move on.
As for Solecki, he’s as restless and difficult to please as any veteran quarterback should be.
“We’ll get after (the mistakes) on Monday,” Solecki said. “We’ll get back and work on things in practice and move onto the next opponent.”
LA SALLE 42, ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 6
ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 0 6 0 0 — 6
LA SALLE 7 21 14 0 — 42
L – Carter 6 run (Karrash kick)
L – Harrison Jr. 15 catch (Karrash kick)
L – Carter 51 run (Karrash kick)
L – Quiles 41 run (Karrash kick)
A – Brown 47 catch (kick failed)
L – Mallee 37 catch (Karrash kick)
L – Carter 14 run (Karrash kick)
Rushing Yards 45-234 28-103
Passing Yards 142 101
Total Yards 364 185
Penalties 1-15 3-25
Fumbles Lost 2 0
RUSHING – La Salle: Carter 35-101, 3 TDs; Quiles 5-66, 1 TD; Solecki 2-32; Mallee 2-10; Vespe 2-5; Harrison Jr. 1-13; Devose 1-5; Daly 1-5; Burnham 1-2. Archbishop Carroll: Ruffin 7-22; Butler 6-11; Gray 3-25; Minor-Shaw 7=27; Zurvie 4-12; Bowman 2-7
PASSING – La Salle: Solecki 13-27-0 ints., 142 yds., 1 td. Archbishop Carroll: Gray 7-16-0ints., 101 yds., 1 td.
RECEIVING – La Salle: Mallee 5-75, 1td.; Holland 5-24; Carter 3-28; Harrison 1-15. Archbishop Carroll: Brown 2-51, 1 td.; Butler 3-42; Ramsey 1-8.