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Poles, Penn Wood warm up for a showdown

Penn Wood's Kennedy Poles is running ahead of the pack en route to his second touchdown in a recent game at Kerr Field. (PETE BANNAN — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)
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UPPER CHICHESTER — Penn Wood knew what was at stake if it secured two more victories.

Even with a matchup against Chichester Friday, the season finale against Academy Park to decide the Del Val League title was on the minds of the Patriots. Ato Troop’s team has handled its business for much of the season aside from one blemish: a loss to West Chester Rustin.

Other than that, it has been smooth sailing and the eventual meeting with the Knights is finally next on the agenda.

“It’s a rivalry game and I kind of knew this is where we would be at the end of the season,” Troop said. “We knew (Academy Park) are bringing back a good team. We’ve been trying to focus on one game at a time but it’s AP-Penn Wood. It’s going to be a battle.”

First, the Patriots can feel good about a 42-0 win over Chi. Quarterback Desman Johnson Jr. threw for 206 yards and a Penn Wood single-game record five passing touchdowns. From the opening kickoff, Johnson and offense were in control.

The Patriots went 55 yards in 1:37 on their opening drive as Johnson found Brian Parker Jr. for a 36-yard hookup down the right sideline. Two drives later, Johnson connected with Park again on a seven-yard scoring reception and Penn Wood (8-1, 4-0 Del Val League) led 14-0.

One of the seniors who was on the 3-7 team in 2015 was wide receiver Kennedy Poles, who ensured the Patriots went into their matchup with the Knights unscathed in league play. Poles recovered a muffed punt in the end zone to give his team a 20-point advantage.

On the next two possessions, he put the game out of reach. With 1:58 left before the half, Poles caught a 22-yard touchdown from Johnson. On the ensuing possession, Johnson rolled to his right and threw a jump ball that Poles came down with to make Penn Wood’s lead at the break 34-0.

“That play wasn’t even going to me,” said Poles, who finished with six catches for 87 yards. “He told me it was going to another receiver. It was in my atmosphere so I’m going to go grab it.”

If the offense was impressive, the defense was better. The Patriots limited Chichester (3-5, 0-4) to 96 total yards of offense. The Eagles finished the opening quarter with zero net yards and only 37 at the break. Penn Wood’s defensive unit recorded two sacks, including one from defensive end Dashawn Brickle, who moved to Pennsylvania this year and relishes the opportunity to add another win against Academy Park to the Patriots’ resume.

“I’m a new addition to the Penn Wood Patriots and I’m just trying to add to the culture,” Brickle said. “I want to continue the legacy of being 2-0 against (Academy Park).”

Penn Wood’s offense could not be hitting its stride at a better time. They’ve scored at least 42 in each of the last three games. Johnson leads the county with 25 passing touchdowns, 11 of those being caught by Poles.

Troop knows how much a final victory over Academy Park would mean to Poles and the 2018 class.

“Some of these guys remember being 3-7 as freshmen,” Troop said. “I made a promise to them when I became defensive coordinator a few years ago that would be our worst record. So far, they’re keeping me truthful.”

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