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Klein’s bulk, Silvi’s boots a winning combo for Episcopal Academy

WHITEMARSH >> Watching Adam Klein and James Silvi celebrate together is a study in contrasts.

One of the Episcopal Academy seniors is a 6-5, 265-pound lineman who looks more imposing than his roster measurables. The other is a 5-10 kicker.

Yet in Saturday afternoon’s 18-0 Inter-Ac League win over Germantown Academy, the duo were about equal in their contributions.

Klein manned the lines for an offensive unit that weathered injuries to its starting quarterback and running back, and a stout defensive front that posted the zero. Just as important, if you ask the Churchmen, was Silvi’s kicking contributions, a pair of field goals the marked the only points of the final three quarters.

“Silvi is something special,” fill-in quarterback Adam Robinson said. “We can drive down to the 30-yard line and know that if we don’t get the third-down conversion, we have Silvi to kick it in.”

The damage wrought by the EA defense on GA (5-4, 1-2 Inter-Ac) was impressive. The Patriots compiled just 124 yards of offense and as many punts as first downs (seven). The Patriots had just four plays of more than 10 yards.

That level of dominance was fostered by the Churchmen’s bigs. Klein clogged gaps, Jack Purcell jumped a screen pass for an interception and Milt Mamula continued to wreak havoc with three sacks and a forced fumble, where he hammer-tossed GA backup Lacey Snowden back five yards. He also had a 60-yard touchdown return of a fumble called back for a flag. In the face of that physicality, GA starting running back Trae Vance (crumpling under a Klein tackle) and quarterback Colton Niedzielski (leg) left injured.

But the Churchmen got a head start in their dogged defense thanks to Silvi. He booted four touchbacks (three on kickoffs) and buried a punt inside the 20. GA attempted 11 offensive plays from EA territory, and its average start of possession was its 24-yard line.

“That’s huge. Coach talks about it all the time, field position,” Klein said. “If they’re starting out at the 20, they’ve got to go 80 yards. It’s a huge difference between starting at the 20 and starting at the 35. Those differences can win you games and lose you games. To have a kicker like him, that’s awesome.”

Silvi kicked in on the offensive side, too.

“I usually get that feeling more after halftime because you kind of get more of a clear picture of how the game is going to end up,” Silvi said. “You don’t think about missing in that situation; you just don’t think about anything but making.”

Episcopal (5-3, 2-1) sprung to life on its third possession when the Churchmen started to pound the rock with DeeWil Barlee, culminating in a five-yard score with 2:07 left in the first quarter. After a three-and-out, quarterback Marcus McDaniel burst around left end — thanks to a hellacious seal block by Klein — and dashed 56 yards to paydirt for a 12-0 EA lead.

But McDaniel folded up under a tackle late in the first half and left, not to return. Barlee (14 rushes, 105 yards), returned from the locker room at halftime without his shoulder pads.

That left Robinson to fill in, and he did so marvelously.

“It was just a shock, (McDaniel) getting hurt all of a sudden,” Robinson said. “It was just me being able to step in and work with my team.”

Robinson ran 17 times for 116 yards, and Barlee’s understudy Matt Bush toted 15 times for 78 yards. Silvi cashed a 24-yard field goal into the wind with one second left in the second quarter. He had a 36-yarder blocked in the third (due in part to a low snap), but nailed a 43-yard attempt with the wind for the only points of the second half with 4:36 left in the third.

“Once we get inside the 30, we know we’re in range,” Klein said. “We know we’re in range for either three points or seven points. It’s awesome that we know he can step up whenever we need him.”

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