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Conwell-Egan Football’s defense comes through versus Palisades

Conwell-Egan junior RB Patrick Garwo crosses the goal line to score a touchdown in Eagles' previous win over Lansdale Catholic. (Gregg Slaboda – 21st-Century Media)

PHILA. >> Facing District 11 Champion Palisades, Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) rival Conwell-Egan had its work cut out for it facing the unbeaten Pirates (13-0) in the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament Nov. 25 at Charles Martin Memorial Stadium.

Palisades took the trip downstate with a pair of 1,200-yard rushers in tow – senior Jared Colletti and junior Trey Gretzinger. The week before in a first-round PIAA matchup, the duo combined on 433 yards and four touchdowns in a wild 48-42 win over Lehighton and, on the season, the pair had 35 touchdowns between them.

In the District 11-AAA title win over Lehighton, Gretzinger notched 233 yards rushing and a pair of long touchdown sprints on just 10 carries. Colletti added 200 yards on 32 rushes and threw a crucial 54-yard TD pass to senior Matt McGrath on the first play of the fourth quarter.

No matter.

“We came out and did what we wanted to do,” said C-E head coach Jack Techtmann. “We felt we were bigger up front and had to control the ball and keep them off the field.

“They have some explosive backs; some of them were a little bit banged up today. But their two 1,000-yard rushers, we pretty much kept in check.”

Palisades entered the playoff having outscored its opposition by a 612-166 margin in 13 straight triumphs. That’s nearly a 3.7 to 1 margin of victory.

“They never scored less than 35 points and our defense has taken some hits this year,” admitted Techtmann. “A lot of times it hasn’t been their fault; we put them in bad situations, offensively.

“To hold them to three points in the first half shows how much our defense has grown up this year.”

To demonstrate just how youthful the Eagles are on defense, the coach explained that C-E starts freshman Dajuan Harris and sophomore Sam Schurr at linebacker, freshman Andrew Garwo at corner and another ninth-grader – Rahmere McDuffie – at defensive end.

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Conwell-Egan was flagged 20 times for 217 yards in the quarterfinal. Five of those calls came on third and fourth down, extending a pair of Pirate touchdown drives in the second half and Palisades’ field goal drive before the intermission.

“Some stuff we did do,” Techtmann said, of the penalties. “But a couple of the interference calls, we were in front and behind the (receiver) and he’s pushing our front guy in the back and they call us for interference?

“And to throw our player (Andrew Garwo) out and say he threw a punch? The TV has it and our camera man has it until the end of the play and he never threw a punch. The (official) threw (the flag) from 40 yards. It was absolutely the worst call I’ve ever seen.

“You have to be sensitive to that. I watched Middletown (vs. Scranton Prep) last night and they were going at it; nobody got thrown out of the game.

“These guys [officials] were horrendous.”

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Junior RB Patrick Garwo notched 280 yards and three TDs on 31 touches including an electrifying 74-yard second-quarter scoring run in the win over Palisades. The week before in a 44-20 victory over Lansdale Catholic, he raced for 196 yards and two TDs on 29 carries.

Patrick now has 1,844 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on the season.

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Junior special teams ace Terome Mitchell was held from the lineup due to injury. The week before in a 44-20 triumph over Lansdale Catholic, Mitchell ignited the Eagles with a 78-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with only seconds left in the first half. Mitchell finished the game with 150 yards on four kickoff returns, adding a two-point conversion to put Egan up 14-7 going into the intermission. McDuffie also missed the game with an injury.

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