LANSDALE >> Football teams do everything they can to keep their seasons going as long as possible. But as Lansdale Catholic coach Tom Kirk noted after the Crusaders’ practice Thursday, there are some challenges presented as daylight becomes sparse and temperatures drop.
“It’s an adjustment. It’s funny how we’re all excited to play, but you’re excited to play in the games but it’s still tough to go through the practices,” Kirk said. “You have to cut them down a little bit. You know, we’ve been out here for a long time and you have to understand the human side of it, it’s cold, it’s windy, it’s dark early, so you got to get your work do and just be ready for Friday or Saturday, whatever you play.”
A tougher job figuring out practice logistics, however, beats the alternative of no games to gets to get ready for. And the Crusaders are intending to keep their 2017 campaign going Friday night as they face Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division rival Conwell-Egan in the District 1/12 Class 3A final. Kickoff at Truman High School is set for 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to take on the District 11 champ — either Palisades or Lehighton, who play Saturday — in the state quarterfinals.
“Last year, we were done in October and they didn’t like it. I didn’t like it, but they really didn’t like it,” Kirk said. “So, they’re excited, they understand what this is. These are one-game seasons or one-week seasons. That’s it. If you lose, you go home and if you win, whoever it is you play the next week.”
It it the second meeting between the Crusaders (5-6) and Conwell-Egan (5-6) at Truman this season, LC rallying in the fourth quarter to earn a 31-21 victory Sept. 29. The Eagles committed five turnovers — four on fumbles — and Lansdale Catholic erased a 21-14 deficit after three quarters by scoring the game’s final 17 points.
LC senior running back Matt Casee ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns. CEC junior running back Patrick Garwo — the top player in the state in the rivals.com Class or 2019 rankings — had two touchdowns but was held to 66 yards on 17 carries.
“They helped us. They fumbled the ball three or four times,” said Kirk of the teams’ previous game. “They’re an excellent running team, always have been. Their No. 5 (Garwo) for them is just a terrific running back but if you concentrate on him then 21 (Dajuan Harris) or 30 (Terome Mitchell) or their quarterback (Alex Goldsby), so you have to concentrate on their offense not on their players.
“Just be solid. They’re going to get some big plays, just try not to give up long touchdowns. Just play it as we always do, kind of the bend but don’t break defense.”
Garwo, the PCL Blue Division MVP, is the top rusher in the Catholic League with 1,370 yards and 18 touchdowns. He picked up 94 yards on 12 carries in the Eagles’ 42-14 win over New Hope-Solebury last Friday in the District 1/12-3A semifinals. Goldsby added 86 yards and two scores on eight carries as CEC scored the contest’s first 28 points.
Lansdale Catholic spent the past two weeks earning wins over School of the Future at the South Philadelphia Super Site. First, the Crusaders topped the Firebirds 42-12 Nov. 4 in the District 12-3A title game then last Saturday in the 1/12 semifinals cruised to a 42-30 win after going up 42-0 in the third quarter.
“We felt if we came out strong, don’t worry about the other team, let’s just see what we can do,” Kirks said. “We felt we were ready and I was really proud of the way our kids responded. You really could of come out flat last week but it was just the opposite. They didn’t at all.”
Casee and sophomore Danny Dutkiewicz both eclipsed 100 yards on the ground in the semifinal victory with Casee going over 1,000 yards for the season in the game. Casee enters Friday’s contest with 1,103 yards. Dutkiewicz has run for more than 100 yards in each of LC’s last four games and stands at 974 yards rushing this year.
“Believe it our not, we’re getting healthier as the year goes on, so that helps,” Kirk said. “Matt Casee and Danny Dutkiewicz together I think have been feeding off each other more not only from a running standpoint but a blocking standpoint, they’ve become very complimentary back there. Our fullback position do a very good job, they don’t get an awful lot of carries. The carries they get, it’s very opportunistic and Mike Dutkiewicz our quarterback is just really running the offense well.”
Since a 42-14 loss to Haverford Oct. 21, the Crusaders have won three straight and scored at least 42 points in all three victories — a season-high 49 coming against Bishop McDevitt in the regular-season finale. It is the longest stretch for any Lansdale Catholic team to score at least 40 points since the 2004 side did it in five straight games.
“We had a couple of games during the year that we would turn the ball over and we just we’re not good enough to do that. If we don’t turn the ball over, we’re pretty solid. Not great, but we’re pretty solid,” Kirk said. “So that has to be a key tomorrow for both teams. You just don’t want it to be a game decided by turnovers. Most game are but you don’t want to be on the side you’re the one turning the ball over.”
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