READING >> Berks Catholic is one fearsome outfit.
How fearsome is for November and beyond to decide. But the Saints are playing about as well as a high school outfit can possibly play at the midway point of the gridiron regular season.
The host Saints (5-0) rolled up 498 yards of total offense Friday night and shut down the formerly high-flying Exeter Eagles at the other to record a 48-7 victory Friday night in a Berks League crossover clash. Berks Catholic moved to a 35-0 lead midway through the third quarter and got the mercy clock rolling against a Berks Section 1 club that figured to be Governor Mifflin’s only serious challenge in the circuit’s top rung. Instead, the Eagles fell to 2-3 overall.
BC’s Brandon George compiled 197 rushing yards on just five totes in the first half and finished with 228 on nine carries with three touchdowns. George has proven the bulldozing change-up to scatback Cooper Lutz, who amassed 85 yards on 15 attempts Friday night.
Most importantly, it was the Saints’ stout defense that continued to shine. BC surrendered a cosmetic touchdown up 42-0 but otherwise held an Exeter attack that had been averaging nearly 400 total yards per game to 263.
Eagles’ quarterback Brandon Unterkoefler had two completions at halftime for net -2 passing yards. He finished 5 of 10 for 66 yards and one score — a 6-yard toss to Jack Fiucci early in the fourth quarter for Exeter’s only marker.
Nick Sarangoulis — Exeters’s do-everything running back — managed 57 yards on 11 rushing attempts but, in a potentially devastating development for the Eagles, departed before halftime with a shoulder injury.
The Saints have surrendered just 31 total points in five games, all but eight coming in fourth quarter garbage time with huge leads. The first-team defense has yet to be scored upon as the calendar flips to October.
“Our offense controlled the ball and our defense controlled their offense,” BC head coach Rick Keeley said. “We are playing very good football right now.”
Could the Section 2 Saints actually be the Berks League’s top unit? It’s an enticing question, with the neighboring Governor Mifflin Mustangs and section rival (and fellow unbeaten) Wyomissing in the mix, but Keeley wouldn’t bite. The Saints and Mustangs don’t play; the Spartans still await, more than a month off.
“I’m only worried about being the best team tonight,” Keeley said. “So the next-week things, they take care of themselves. The staff and our kids do a great job of just focusing on who we’re playing tonight … if you take care of business one week at at a time, all those accolade-type things take care of themselves. It’s a shame you can’t play someone who’s not on your schedule. Mifflin has a great team and we have a great team.”
Lutz got the lion’s share carries, but when George had the football he was imposing.
The junior running back hit pay dirt on his first tote of the night, a 67-yard rumble through Exeter’s defense for an early 7-0 Saints lead not six minutes into the contest. The second time he touched it, George went for 49 yards — which set up BC’s second score, a 5-yard reception by Lutz from quarterback Terrence Derr with 4:48 left in the half. His third carry was good for 33; his fourth was a 19-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0, 1:55 to the break. His fifth went for 29, setting up Luke Painton’s 23-yard touchdown reception from Derr for a 28-0 lead. Exeter simply could not contain him.
“I was just trying to help my team get up and stay up,” George said. “When they try to contain one (Lutz), we come back with the other. That’s all it is.”
Quinton Foley added a pair of second half scores for the Saints, with the regulars departed. He ran for 76 yards on five carries.
For Exeter, the struggle was exacerbated by Sangoulis’s injury, which occurred in the second quarter. Gage Moran ran for 82 yards on seven carries in his stead, but their styles are different. Moran’s straight-ahead, between-the-tackles style differs from Sangoulis’s native slithering elusiveness. Exeter head coach Matt Bauer did not sound terribly optimistic after the game.
“We won’t know until Saturday when the doctor sees him,” Bauer said.
Bauer was asked if he saw this lopsided result coming.
“No, I did not,” he replied. “But I’ll take responsibility for it. I’m in charge.
“It gets back to what we’ve stressed all year: Tackling. I thought we did a much better job last week against Mifflin (a 24-14 loss) with that. We took a step back tonight in that area.”
Berks Catholic 48, Exeter 7
Exeter – 0 0 0 7 — 7
Berks Catholic – 7 21 14 6 — 48
BC – Brandon George 67 run (Jamin Smith kick), 5:52
BC – Cooper Lutz 5 pass from Terrence Derr (Smith kick), 4:48
BC – George 19 run (Smith kick), 1:55
BC – Luke Painton 23 pass from Derr (Smith kick), 0:08
BC – George 8 run (Smith kick), 7:54
BC – Quinton Foley 1 run (Smith kick), 2:01
E – Jack Fiucci 6 pass from Brandon Unterkoefler (Josh Cuppit kick), 10:33
BC- Foley 26 run (kick blocked), 4:31
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