Reporter/Times Herald Area Week 13 Football Previews

North Penn will look to continue its winning ways against Downingtown West when the two programs square off for the fourth time in the postseason Friday night at Crawford Stadium in a District 1-6A Semifinal.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The two squads haven’t met in postseason play since 2008, but the Knights won that game along with two other playoff meetings — 2006 and 2002 — and are 3-0 lifetime against D-West in the postseason.
North Penn aims to advance to its third district final in the last four years and 13th overall — all under coach Dick Beck.
The top-seeded Knights come into this one a perfect 12-0, with their defense riding high. Evan Spann picked off a pass in the final minutes against Neshaminy and returned it all the way for a clinching touchdown to send the Knights to the semis.
North Penn has also been using tough running by Shamar Edwards and timely passing by quarterback Solomon Robinson to advance deep into the postseason once again.
Fourth-seeded Downingtown West comes into this one at 12-1, its only loss coming against No. 2 Coatesville, which squares off against No. 3 Garnet Valley in the other semifinal.
The Whippets gave up 331 rushing yards to Truman last week but rallied from 14 back and stayed alive with a last-minute, 39-yard field goal by kicker Dan Byrnes. Quarterback Ryan Wetzel hit Jackson Luneberg for a 31-yard connection to set up the game-winning kick.
Although the two squads seldom meet, they — at one time — used to open the season against one another.
North Penn defeated what was then Downingtown 14-7 in the 1988 season opener. The Whippets won the next three meetings. Playoffs included, NP is 4-3 lifetime against Downingtown West.

District 1-6A Semifinals
(4) Downingtown West at
(1) North Penn
Time/Place: 7 p.m. Friday, North Penn High School.
Records: Downingtown West is 12-1 overall and 5-1 in the Ches-Mont National. North Penn is 12-0 and 6-0 in the SOL Continental.
On Twitter: @khunter10 and @mpcabrey.
On the Air: The game will be broadcast on the radio on WNPV 98.5 FM/1440 AM.
Last Week: The Knights won a defensive battle with Neshaminy, 13-6. The Whippets won in dramatic fashion over Truman, 24-22.
Up Next: The winner advances to next week’s district final against No. 2 Coatesville or No. 3 Garnet Valley.
Last Meeting: The Knights rolled to a 51-21 win over the Whippets in the 2008 district semis.
Playoff History: The Knights and Whippets met two other times in the postseason, both contests won by North Penn. NP prevailed 21-17 over West in the 2006 district quarters and 35-12 in the 2002 quarters, over what was then Downingtown.
Players to Watch: Evan Spann made the big play for the Knights last week, coming up with a clinching interception and touchdown return against Neshaminy. West kicker Dan Byrnes drilled a 39-yard, game-winning field goal in the finals seconds against Truman.
Prediction: North Penn 28, Downingtown West 14.
District 1-5A Semifinals
(11) Unionville at
(2) Upper Dublin
Time/Place: 7 p.m. Friday, Upper Dublin High School.
Records: Unionville is 6-6 overall and 4-1 in the Ches-Mont American. Upper Dublin is 10-1 overall and 6-0 in the SOL American.
On Twitter: @emor09.
Last Week: The Indians stunned third-seeded Radnor, 28-7. The Cardinals shut out Cheltenham, 27-0.
Up Next: The winner advances to next week’s district final against top-seeded Penn Wood or No. 5 West Chester Rustin.
Players to Watch: The Cardinals racked up 293 rushing yards last week, including 96 by versatile quarterback, Mike Slivka. Meanwhile, running back Connor Schilling gained 174 yards on the ground for Unionville last week.
Prediction: Upper Dublin 33, Unionville 20.
Class 5A City Title
Archbishop Wood at
Simon Gratz
Time/Place: 1 p.m. Saturday, Northeast High School.
Records: Archbishop Wood is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division. Simon Gratz is 5-5 overall and 3-2 in the Philly Public League.
On Twitter: @khunter10.
Last Week: The Vikings held off Archbishop Ryan, 24-17. The Bulldogs advanced with a 14-6 win over Martin Luther King.
Up Next: The winner advances to next week’s PIAA-5A Quarterfinals, to take on Hollidaysburg or Wallenpaupack.
Players to Watch: Running back Tom Santiago scored the go-ahead touchdown last week for the Vikings and had two scores in all in the victory. Jordan Mariney is a speedy wide receiver for the Bulldogs.
Prediction: Archbishop Wood 31, Simon Gratz 7.




Episcopal Academy’s DeeWil Barlee is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

DeeWil Barlee

The senior running back set the EA all-time record for career rushing yards (2,963) with a final burst of 143 yards in 29 carries during Episcopal’s 28-14 win on Haverford/EA Day. The record was formerly held by his brother Dee, a 2016 graduate, who accounted for 2,907 yards in four seasons. Next fall, Barlee will be attending Villanova University. EA football head coach Todd Fairlie said, “DeeWil is an exceptional player and person, he is the ultimate team player and is willing to do anything that’s asked of him to help the team. In his time here, he has become a terrific leader and role model for the players in our program and the students in our school.”

Q: What does it mean to you to break your brother Dee’s school rushing record? When did you become aware that you broke his record, and what was your first reaction when you found out you broke it?

A: It means a lot to me because not only is he my brother, he’s someone that I really look up to just as a person. For me to be able to break the record is just a blessing. Dee actually came up to me during a timeout and told me but I told him that I wasn’t finished yet. On the very next play [a 33-yard touchdown run] it was the final play for me on offense which was pretty special being able to share that moment with the person who held the previous record. I didn’t understand what I had done until Dee along with many other teammates and peers came around me cheering. I started to tear up and gave out a lot of hugs.

Q: How did you feel about it being your final game for EA?

A:  I am happy we won the way we did; however, it’s hard to walk away from somewhere you’ve played all four years at. 

Q: Tell us a little about the influence of your older brothers Dee and Cyrus – what have they meant to you as football mentors, and as life mentors?

A: Cyrus and Dee really help me understand that I can’t accomplish anything without putting in the effort and time. Along with a lot of family members, they basically said the same thing, but in different ways, so I had many ways in which I could attack life on and off the field.

Q: What attracted you to Villanova? What do you think you would like to major in at Villanova?

A: I’ve had an attraction to Villanova since my sophomore year. The thing that really had me sold was the fact that the coaches really care about me and my family. I would like to major in Civil Engineering. 

Fun facts – DeeWil Barlee

Favorite book: Othello.

Favorite author: Shakespeare.

Favorite TV show: Family Guy.

Favorite movie: Friday.

Favorite athlete: Brian Dawkins.

Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Love Sosa.

Favorite team: “Philadelphia Eagles!”

Favorite place to visit: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Favorite pre-game meal: Fruits and Italian hoagie.

Person I most admire: “Brian Dawkins because to me he has the most respect from players to owners. Everyone loves him because of his positive energy and the way he carries himself.”

(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)




Doughty’s late heroics send Souderton to PIAA-4A final

CHAMBERSBURG >> Averie Doughty provided the Souderton girls soccer team with a last-second extension.

Minutes later in overtime, the sophomore forward sent the Indians into elation.

Doughty pulled Souderton level with Peters Township with just 11 seconds remaining in their PIAA Class 4A semifinal then at 7:01 in overtime jumped on a loose ball after a free kick to send Big Red into the state final with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at Chambersburg High School’s Trojan Stadium.

“I don’t even know, it was just amazing to feel that we just won,” said Doughty of the winning goal. “Now we’re going to the final.”

Doughty’s brace advances Souderton (16-3-6) to the program’s first-ever PIAA final to face SOL Continental Conference rival Pennridge — a 1-0 winner over Ephrata — 4 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

“We didn’t want to end at a semifinals,” Souderton’s Campbell Power said. “We think we worked our butts off in the district final and we wanted to get to a state final. That was the goal when we started the season, getting to the state final. So with a minute left, it was just work as hard as you can, get everything up towards the goal and just shoot.”

Saturday will be the third meeting this season between Souderton and the Rams, Pennridge winning the first 1-0 Sept. 17 while the teams played to a scoreless draw on Oct. 11.

“They’re a great team, we play them twice a year every year and to think that two Continental, District 1 teams see each other in the state finals in Hershey would be great,” Souderton assistant coach Todd Andrade said. “We’ve had some great rivalry games with a lot of different teams over the past four years and I know that the girls will be pumped to have a championship matchup like that.”

Doughty provided heroics for a second straight game at Chambersburg, as she scored a goal and converted the winning penalty kick in Souderton’s quarterfinal victory over Seneca Valley last Saturday.

“The last two games in a row I went up to Averie Doughty, who I’ve known since she was 6 years old and told her she owes me two goals tonight,” Andrade said. “In the last game she scored the tying goal and the winning PK and in this game with 11 seconds left tied it up and scoring the winning goal there. So she delivered.”

Peters Township (18-5-0), trying to reach its first PIAA final since 2012, was hit with late heartbreak for this second time this postseason, having lost in overtime to Seneca Valley in the District 7 final after conceding the tying goal with three seconds left.

Tuesday night, Jillian Marvin’s strike at 20:07 in the first half looked like it was going to be good enough to get Peters Township through.

“Throughout the entire game seems like we weren’t getting any breaks,” Andrade said. “The calls weren’t sort of going our way, we had some chances heading into the final third a few times, goalkeeper was making saves like on an ESPN highlight reel that we thought should of gone in the back of the net.

“I felt like we were pushing throughout the entire game and I got to be honest  as the last two minutes were coming, I thought it was slipping away.”

But in the final seconds, PT goalkeeper Emma Sawich’s clearance attempt went to Erin O’Keefe, who then crossed the ball to an open Doughty in the middle. Doughty wheeled around and let go of a left-footed strike into the left corner of the net to make it 1-1.

“She tried to cross it and it came right to my feet,” Doughty said. “I just turned and hit and well.”

Peters Township had some early pressure in overtime, but Souderton worked to gain control and on its second free kick earned from a dangerous distance, Big Red capitalized. 

Power, who had sent Souderton’s first OT free kick high, opted to place it in the box and give someone a chance to make a play.”

“I decided the best idea right now is just getting the ball as close to the net as possible,” Power said.

Sawich got a piece of the Power free kick with a sliding save, but the ball stayed free and Doughty was at right there place to knock it in at 7:01.

“I was just kind of waiting to see what it was like and follow in,” Doughty said.

Peters Township took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half as its sustained pressure finally paid off in Marvin getting the ball in the box and sending it into the net at 20:07.




DiGIOVANNI: Unless schools look out for each other, even 40-team mega-league won’t solve everything

The Ches-Mont League has fared very well in both the Class 5A and 6A playoffs, with the league putting one team in all each of the four semifinals.

While the Ches-Mont is doing very well on the gridiron in these playoffs, the league is still grappling with a better way to align the league to make it more competitive for everyone. Last week’s 8-4 principals vote to move both West Chester East and West Chester Henderson to the Ches-Mont American Division — leaving the American with eight teams and the National with just five — has come under fire from many sides.

With the latest realignment under much scrutiny, I have learned of a possible plan that would merge the Ches-Mont (13 teams) with the Del Val League (six teams) and Suburban One (21 teams) to form a 40-team scheduling slate. The proposal would not include the Central League or Pioneer Athletic Conference, two leagues that seem to want no part of a district-wide scheduling situation.

This latest idea is in the early stages, and the Suburban One is dealing with its own alignment problems, but the scheduling idea would have four 10-team divisions with all schools playing a nine-game league schedule and having to find just one nonleague game. As much as possible, it would put schools in mini leagues with teams in the same classifications.

Going by this year’s classifications, that hypothetical 40-team setup would include:

• 22 Class 6A schools (including Coatesville, the Downingtowns and Avon Grove).

• 14 Class 5A schools (the rest of the Ches-Mont except for Shanahan).

• Four Class 4A schools (including Shanahan).

The problem with any realignment is that schools basically look at what is best for them and not for the good of the many. I realize schools have to look out for themselves, first and foremost, but there has to be some give and take if you want to be in a league with other schools. If not, then go independent and try to get a realistic 10-game schedule.

Good luck with that.

The reently approved Ches-Mont realignment plan is already drawing its skeptics.

Some 5A coaches are concerned with having to play two crossover games and still having a bye week, with that week off coming late in the season. The 6A schools (plus 4A Bishop Shanahan) will now have to find more nonleague games, and those coaches say that nonleague games are hard enough to find when you have to get three of them, not to mention the four or five they will need now.

As far as it goes on the field, the Ches-Mont is having a great fall.

In Class 5A, West Chester Rustin has showed it is a tough team to be reckoned with, as the Golden Knights soundly defeated both Oxford and Academy Park, and now will travel to Penn Wood to play a top-seeded Patriots team that lost to Rustin in Week 5.

The other 5A school is Unionville. The Indians have showed their defensive prowess, allowing just seven points in their first two playoff games. Unionville went on the road for a 9-0 victory over Springfield-Delco in the first round and then shut down a very good offensive team in Radnor in the quarterfinal round.

The two 6A schools, Coatesville and Downingtown West, took very different paths to the semifinals. Coatesville is averaging 47 points per game and leading District 1 in that category. The Red Raiders have blown out their first two opponents, Central Bucks East and Downingtown East, while the Whippets needed a last-second, 39-yard field goal from Dan Byrnes to take down a very good Harry S. Truman squad in the quarterfinals.

So while the Ches-Mont League is wrestling with many options off the field for the 2019 season, on the field we have four talented and unique teams, led by Coatesville, which is probably the best 6A team in the state.

So, enjoy the games and let the talking and hand-wringing over realignment rest until the offseason.

With two the last four schools left in the District 1 playoffs, fans should realize they are seeing the best of the best in high school football in Pennsylvania.

Peter DiGiovanni covers high school football for the Daily Local News and Pa. Prep Live. Follow him on Twitter @PeteDLN.




Haverford School captures the “Split Sweater”

Haverford >> Since 1889, The Haverford School and The Episcopal Academy have engaged in sportsmanship, tradition, and competition as part of the second-oldest athletic rivalry in the Inter-Academic League: Haverford/EA Day.

On Nov. 9-10, the two teams faced each other, this year on Haverford’s campus, and the Fords came out on top, winning cross-country (27-29 win) and golf (177-178 victory) on Nov. 9 and water polo (12-5 win) and soccer (4-1 victory) on Nov. 10, falling to EA in football, 28-14. Haverford’s soccer win clinched the Inter-Ac title for the team.

The school that takes the day wins earns yearlong possession of the iconic “split-sweater,” made up of half a Lower School sweater from each school that tracks the wins in embroidered years. The Haverford School lost the split-sweater in 2017, following a six-year stretch of wins, but earned it back in 2018.

“Haverford-EA Day is one of the most important days of the year,” said Haverford School Headmaster John Nagl, D.Phil. “Rivalries like ours make our communities stronger, and the young people we educate and inspire will make the world better through the leadership, resilience, and perseverance they learn on our fields alongside our coaches and teachers.”

 




2018 Mercury Area Leaders

2018 Mercury Area Rushing Leaders

RankPlayerTeamRush Att.Rush YdsRush TDRush Avg
1Isaiah TaylorPottsgrove2131319166.2
2Marcus MartinOwen J. Roberts196104995.4
3Zaire SavageUpper Merion19788154.5
4Tanner VandersliceDaniel Boone16286275.3
5Josiah WigginsPottstown155813125.2
6Tommy BuchertDaniel Boone129796106.2
7Jamie MocciaBoyertown13477595.8
8Alex WashingtonPhoenixville16974894.4
9Jay SiskoPottsgrove121703135.8
10AJ NatalePope John Paul II139681104.9
11Travis PannellaPhoenixville12967985.3
12Chase LaceyDaniel Boone96535105.6
13Isaiah GloverPottsgrove6753287.9
14Ayden MathiasBoyertown7652366.9
15Daniel DardenPottstown14745733.1
16Cole PeterlinPerkiomen Valley11245554.1
17Stephen BrillSpring-Ford9443264.6
18Mario MazzccuaHill School4542939.5
19Tyrese ReidUpper Perkiomen7742065.5
20Jon MocciaPerkiomen Valley9140674.5
21Cooper ChamberlainOwen J. Roberts10739763.7
22Jacob SturmPerkiomen Valley6337616.0
23Ryan EngroSpring-Ford10535593.4
24Luke WharyUpper Perkiomen9834943.6
25Mike TorciniMethacton9234513.8
26Kamal GrayPope John Paul II9233473.6
27Michael ZelliUpper Merion7132924.6
28Anthony SwendaUpper Merion8032154.0
29Daniel WatsonNorristown8330163.6
30Ezra FigueroaPottstown4427116.2
31Malachi DukaUpper Perkiomen5425624.7
32Dylan RobertsonBoyertown4825415.3
33Jonathan OisterPottstown3024928.3
34Quinn FoleyDaniel Boone4223225.5
35Dereck DardenPottstown3421716.4
36Xzavier GorskiNorth Penn4721014.5
37Michael CirielloMethacton4919714.0
38Zahir HaynesNorristown4018304.6
39Gary KnoxMethacton5017703.5
40Andrew YoonSpring-Ford3217125.3
41Larry WilliamsDaniel Boone3114704.7
42Kayden WhitePottsgrove3914103.6
43Joe VeraUpper Perkiomen2914114.9
44Devan BanosDaniel Boone2013716.9
45Jadore ColbertPottsgrove3513113.7
46Dante DenardoOwen J. Roberts1811716.5
47Malik Smith IIPerkiomen Valley1211009.2
48CJ McCaffertyPope John Paul II228824.0
49Armante HaynesSpring-Ford248013.3
50Zachary DavisBoyertown248013.3

2018 Mercury Area Receiving Leaders

RankPlayerTeamRecRec YdsRec. TDRec Avg
1Steve SkarbekPope John Paul II47838917.8
2Dante BonanniSpring-Ford528161015.7
3Justin KormosPope John Paul II346421018.9
4Isaiah DominePerkiomen Valley336291119.1
5Christian ThomasNorristown38561614.8
6Austin RowleyPerkiomen Valley28477517.0
7Blaise ScarcelleSpring-Ford28473316.9
8CJ McCaffertyPope John Paul II37422411.4
9Noah BakerSpring-Ford20379719.0
10Dante DenardoOwen J. Roberts33338310.2
11Nehemiah FigueroaPottstown3633209.2
12Stephen BrillSpring-Ford28332111.9
13Savaughn DavidheiserOwen J. Roberts3532629.3
14Marc ClaytonUpper Merion22292213.3
15Jon MocciaPerkiomen Valley25284311.4
16Jimai SpringfieldPottsgrove12274422.8
17Taiyan LobbanUpper Merion24255110.6
18Max KratohwillUpper Perkiomen24248210.3
19Luke WharyUpper Perkiomen18242113.4
20Nick TeetsSpring-Ford16233314.6
21Marcus MartinOwen J. Roberts2423229.7
22Jamie MocciaBoyertown13217216.7
23Xzavier GorskiNorth Penn19216011.4
24Tyrese ReidUpper Perkiomen12204217.0
25Andrew CarducciUpper Perkiomen2120309.7
26Travis CummingsNorristown16178011.1
27Ryan BodolusPottsgrove10176117.6
28Alex WashingtonPhoenixville2017118.6
29AJ NatalePope John Paul II2216427.5
30Matt OkuniewskiDaniel Boone14162111.6
31Jacob SturmPerkiomen Valley14150110.7
32Connor LeisterOwen J. Roberts10148114.8
33Justin MitalaPope John Paul II7140220.0
34Larry DickersonMethacton9137315.2
35Sam KuhlOwen J. Roberts10130113.0
36Gabe RandallNorristown8129016.1
37Steve BrownMethacton2312605.5
38Mike DoughertyPerkiomen Valley8118014.8
39Aaron AndersonUpper Merion8116114.5
40Ahmad StoneUpper Merion11114010.4
41Jahzeel WatsonPottstown7113016.1
42Anthony StevensonReporter/Times Herald Area Week 13 Football Previews6109118.2
43Connor RohrbachBoyertown6103117.2
44Gernard FinneyHill School6100116.7
45Collin FunkUpper Perkiomen796213.7
46Matthew YakscoeMethacton788112.6
47Kirk WilsonNorristown684014.0
48Jack PizorPhoenixville683013.8
49Zaire SavageUpper Merion781111.6
50Aidan FoleyPhoenixville679013.2




Record-breaker Poles strings late TD catches to bring Penn Wood back

YEADON — Five weeks ago Interboro came to Kerr Field and was overmatched by host Penn Wood. So Saturday’s rematch in the District 1 Class 5A quarterfinal round, the Patriots assumed, would be an uneventful sequel.

At first, they were wrong.

Penn Wood, however, had a second half to correct its mistake. When it ended, it was 44-28 in favor of the hosts, with all 44 of those points coming unanswered after Interboro jumped out to a stunning 21-0 lead.

The top-seeded Patriots, now 11-1, continue their historic season and advance to the district semifinals next week to face No. 5 West Chester Rustin.

“We did kind of underestimate them a little bit because the first time we blew them out,” said wideout Kennedy Poles, who broke Delaware County’s single-season receiving yards record in this contest. “We came in slacking. That’s why they gave us their best (in the) first half. We had to make changes … we rock ‘n’ rolled.”

Ninth-seeded Interboro (6-6), 50-29 losers to the Patriots back on Oct. 5, jumped out to a surprising three-touchdown lead in the first half behind the stout legs of tailback Mike Moore and a brilliant defensive scheme. Penn Wood was beyond frustrated.

After Moore’s third touchdown, the Patriots finally had a breakthrough via, what else, the Desman Johnson Jr.-to-Poles connection. Their 20-yard touchdown late in the first half gave the Patriots life. They went into halftime with momentum. Words were shared in the locker room. 

“Lot of arguing in the first half,” Johnson said. “We were just arguing, weren’t on the same page. Had a big talk at halftime, stepped up our game.”

It started, luckily enough, with lineman Keivon Stevens recovering Johnson’s fumble in the end zone. The Patriots QB followed that near gaffe in short order by hitting Anauri Hankey down the sideline for a 55-yard score. Penn Wood was down by a mere point.

The defense was shutting down Interboro’s tricky Power-I and the offense was revving up. In the fourth quarter, it became the Poles show. He caught three touchdowns then from 57, 55 and eight yards to flip the game.

The first was a bomb down the middle of the field. The second, he displayed his wheels by catching a short pass and racing diagonally to the opposite pylon. The third was a simple jump ball the 6-foot-2 receiver high-pointed. In all, Poles had nine receptions and 207 yards and vaulted past Josh Hannum’s 1,266-yard mark, set in 2000 for Strath Haven. He now has 1,307 yards this season.

“If I’m full and I know my teammates are going to back me up, we got the best receiving core in the state, best quarterback in the state,” Poles said. “That’s how it should go every game, everybody eating.”

Johnson threw for 349 yards (he’s now 14 yards shy of Marple Newtwon’s Anthony Paoletti’s single-season record of 2,793 yards in 2016), added 59 on the ground, and had six total touchdowns. Elijah Gleplay had 152 rushing yards. Penn Wood totaled 561 yards. Most of it came after halftime.

“It just shows the kind of character they have,” coach Ako Troop said. “Contrary to belief, I don’t go in and yell at them at halftime. We talked, I calmed them down, we coached them up and we played football.”

So now Penn Wood will ready for Rustin, the only team to beat them this season. The 43-28 setback was in September. This one will be at home. A lot has changed since then and a lot has changed overall at Penn Wood. The program is 26-8 the past three seasons. It was 5-48 the previous five.

Now, the Patriots have playoffs wins, league titles and are hosting a district semifinal. This was thought to be impossible, but expectations have changed in 2018.

“I can’t describe in words what it means, just what it means, just for the players here, for the alumni that come and watch us, so proud,” Troop said. “People in the community, the pride it brings. Even when the little league kids come and watch, now they (say) ‘I can’t wait to come to Penn Wood.’ It just fills that pride and is going to continue to grow. It’s uncharted territory.”

Interboro, which will now ready for its traditional Thanksgiving game with Ridley, got 152 rushing yards from Moore before he succumbed to injury. He had touchdowns of 22, five and five yards in that first half.

“They’re explosive, we know they’re explosive,” Interboro coach Steve Lennox said. “The second half we couldn’t keep it going there, unfortunately. They made some plays and obviously we didn’t make the plays in the second half.”




Rustin controls clock, ticks away Academy Park’s playoff stay

NETHER PROVIDENCE — Will Pileggi couldn’t help but flash a wide smile Saturday night.

The West Chester Rustin quarterback completed 10 of 11 attempts for 124 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-6 trouncing of fourth-seeded Academy Park in a District 1 Class 5A quarterfinal at Strath Haven.

“It feels pretty good right now,” he said. “I’ve never been this far in the playoffs. We made to (the quarterfinals) last year and that was it for us.”

It’s far from over for the fifth-seeded Golden Knights, who get a rematch with No. 1 Penn Wood in next week’s semifinals. Rustin (9-2) handed Penn Wood (11-1) its only defeat of 2018 back in September.

To say that Rustin dominated AP (9-3) would be an understatement. On the opening drive of regulation, Rustin chewed up 6:22 of clock with a methodical 12-play drive capped off by Michael Covert’s first of four touchdowns.

“We practiced really well this week and came out prepared,” Covert said. “All of the coaches got us ready. We went through all of their schemes with our offense and it showed off tonight.”

Covert ran for two scores and caught a pair of passes in the end zone. He totaled 85 yards of offense and also intercepted Academy Park quarterback Skylor Fillis.

“It’s not just me,” Covert said. “Really, all the credit goes to the offensive live.”

Rustin’s big and physical group of linemen consisted of Jacob Fails, Joe Zavisky, Jason Thornton, Sean Durant and RJ Cleveland.

“They did a great job,” Covert said.

It was a long night for Academy Park, which had run three plays on offense with four minutes to play in the first half. By halftime, Rustin ran 36 plays to AP’s nine.

“Our goal is always to try and limit the other team to one possession a quarter, try to take off as much time as we can and control the clock” Rustin coach Mike St. Clair said. “We wanted to limit their possessions, especially with a scary offense that they have.”

For the game, Rustin outgained Academy Park by a wide margin, 360-94. Owen Walsh led the ground attack for Rustin. The big fullback gained 99 yards on nine carries with a touchdown.

“They were a better team than we were and they dictated the pace of play,” Academy Park coach Jason Vosheski said. “When you have the ball for about the first nine minutes, whatever it was, and we put our offense out there and we run three plays and punt and then they go like another nine minutes … I think we had nine plays in the first half. For us, that’s not a recipe for success. Not to mention, they’re better than us. It’s that simple.

“They have a great combination of size and speed … and they run what they want to run on both sides of the ball.”

Academy Park’s defense couldn’t get off the field when it needed a stop. In the first half, the Golden Knights converted five third downs.

Barry Brown gave AP a spark when he returned a kick to the end zone after Rustin went ahead 14-0 in the second quarter. But the Golden Knights answered with another lengthy drive. The possession ended on a missed field goal, but AP couldn’t take advantage. Two plays later, Fillis (4-for-12, 43 yards) was picked off by Covert and Rustin’s offense was back in business. Walsh darted 44 yards untouched to the end zone to make it 21-6.

The second half was more of the same for AP. It fumbled the ball away on the opening kick, and Covert would go on to score three touchdowns in the quarter. He ran for a 15-yard score and caught TD passes of 17 and 20 yards.

“We always try to possess the ball for as long as possible and take it one play at a time. That’s been our motto all year,” Pileggi said. “We pound the ball, we pass the ball. That’s what we do. We practiced well all week and got through it today. It was a great win.”




Stingy O’Hara shuts down Carroll, preps for Imhotep

MARPLE TWP. – John Caponi and Richie Kimmel once were teammates.

“We played baseball together,” Cardinal O’Hara junior lineman Caponi said.

“We played for a Ridley travel team in the Cal Ripken regionals,” Archbishop Carroll junior linebacker Kimmel said.

Cardinal O’Hara quarterback Luke Sprague is in full flight until Archbishop Carroll’s Shawn Johnson grabs some jersey Saturday during a District 12 semifinal game between the teams. (Eric Hartline/For Digital First Media)

The two exchanged pleasantries after the Catholic League Class 4A championship game at Lions Field Saturday night. Caponi was the one who walked away from the playing area smiling after helping O’Hara shut out Carroll 9-0.

With the win, the Lions (7-3) advanced in the PIAA Tournament to a matchup with Public League 4A champ Imhotep Charter. That game will be played at 6 p.m. Friday at Benjamin L. Johnston Memorial Stadium, the Germantown High Super Site in Philadelphia.

O’Hara was leading, 2-0, after a safety in the final minute of the opening quarter, and Caponi turned in one of the biggest plays of the game when he sacked Carroll sophomore quarterback Nick Lamey at the Lions’ 21 midway through the second quarter. One play later, a 12-play Patriots drive came to a halt.

It took O’Hara 10 plays and four minutes to drive 74 yards for the only touchdown of the game. The key play of the march was a 32-yard completion from running back Quasir Cottman to Chris Kirby, putting the ball at the Carroll 27. O’Hara covered those 27 yards in five running plays, with Cottman going the final eight yards to the end zone.

“We knew it would be tougher against them this time,” Cottman said. “Our offensive line had to do a really good job, and they did.”

Ryan Culp, Joe Kelly, Louis Perri, and Cole Gehret were among the Lions who punched holes in the Carroll defense and protected quarterback Luke Sprague during the chilly night.

O’Hara PJ O’Reilly, left, and Louis Perri strip the ball from Carroll quarterback Nick Lamey during the second quarter of playoff game at Cardinal O’Hara. (Eric Hartline/For Digital First Media)

On the other side of the ball, the O’Hara defense gave up only 69 yards rushing on 29 attempts by Carroll (5-6).

After his big play late in the first half, Caponi had three more tackles for losses after the break.

“You just never want to give up,” he said. “We owed it to our coaches to get this shutout today.”

O’Hara coach B.J. Hogan made it a point to mention that after his team surrendered 39 points to Conwell-Egan in final game of the regular season, he was pleased to see the effort his defenders gave him Saturday night.

“Getting a shutout in a Catholic League playoff game is big,” he said. “But we know we have to do a better job of getting things done on offense. We can’t keep getting into the red zone and coming away with nothing, especially against the team we have to play next.”

Kimmel’s name was heard over the public address system often during each of the four quarters. He made four stops during an O’Hara drive late in the third period, including a tackle for a loss on Cottman on a fourth-and-goal play from the Carroll 2.

“We played much better against them than we did the last time (a 21-7 loss in September),” Kimmel said. “We didn’t want to let their offense get started.”

While Caponi and his teammates will get ready for their next playoff game, Kimmel will turn his attention to the 2019 Carroll baseball season as the Patriots attempt to match the long run in the postseason the 2018 squad turned in last spring.

“Maybe next year at this time I’ll have the chance to enjoy a win in a playoff football game,” Kimmel said.




Saydee scores 5 TDs, Penn Charter pounds Germantown Academy

WHITEMARSH >> Edward Saydee knew the big run was going to happen.

And on the opening play of the second half, Saydee delivered it — bursting through the line than dashing 80 yards to the end zone to give the visiting Penn Charter football team a 21-0 lead over Germantown Academy 14 seconds into the third quarter.

“I felt good the entire game, I just knew I was about to get a chance to break one,” the Quakers senior running back said. “Just because my o-line was doing their job, like we were doing what we were supposed to do. We just had to clean it up a little bit by holding our blocks but other than that, I knew I was about to break one.”

The rushing touchdown was the first of four after halftime for Saydee, the Temple commit finishing his PC career in stellar style on a cold, windy Saturday afternoon at Carey Stadium, collecting 278 yards on the ground as the Quakers rolled past the Patriots for a 41-14 Inter-Ac victory.

“It’s my last one,” said Saydee, who was given the Geis Trophy as the game’s MVP. “I wasn’t emotional coming into the game, I’m never emotional coming into a game I try to stay calm. But seeing the time come down, I just knew it’s my last high school game so I had to give my heart to it.”

Saydee ended the game with five touchdowns — taking a screen pass 43 yards for six in the second quarter — as Penn Charter (8-2, 4-1 league) earned its second straight win over rival GA (6-4, 1-4).

“Everything we did was to try to keep him from doing those things and they got us into formations and into looks that were just not where we were comfortable,” Germantown Academy coach Matt Dence said. “And we missed tackles and when you miss tackles against a back like that, you’re in trouble

Quarterback Ryan Jones added 95 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries as the Quakers compiled 429 rushing yards in claiming a fourth consecutive win. Penn Charter led 27-0 before the Patriots finally scored at 11:55 in the fourth quarter when Matt Brittingham hit Hans Lillis for an eight-yard touchdown on 4th-and-3.

Saydee, however, answered with a 61-yard touchdown run 57 seconds later then tacked on four-yard TD run with 6:01 left for a 41-7 advantage.

“He came out, he played hard — he’s a good player,” said GA offensive/defensive lineman Elijah Wroten of Saydee. “We came out strong at first, I just felt like we didn’t adjust as well as we should of. We just had to pick it up in the second half but we didn’t in the long run.”

The Patriots added a second touchdown with 36.3 seconds remaining when Brittingham connected with Tayshaun Mack from 28 yards out. The loss was the third in a row for GA, which began the season 5-0 but struggling in Inter-Ac play — its lone win coming against SCH Academy Oct. 20.

“It stinks especially when you’re 5-0 and you feel really good about yourself,” Dence said. “And we are a good football team. But the key to this league is staying healthy, especially the Co-Ed schools. We had 52 kids on the roster, which is big for us but 52 guys aren’t ready to play varsity football. So you really go 30-ish guys and when you lose five or six guys you’re in it. And for a time we lost some of those guys.”

Junior Trae Vance paced the Patriots in rushing with 123 yards on 19 carries. Brittingham threw for 127 yards and two scores on 10-of-24 passing.

“Our kids competed but they just beat us in every aspect of the game,” Dence said. “They’re a well-coached, talented football team and we knew we had to play well to beat them and we did not play well and they did the things they needed to do and did them well.”

Penn Charter took a 7-0 lead after a GA punt died in the wind and set the Quakers up the Patriots 33 at 4:38 in the first quarter. On 3rd-and-6, Saydee ran for 24 yard down the five and on the next play Jones found the end zone for a five-yard score at 2:44.

On its next possession, Penn Charter drove down to the GA 8 but had a 25-yard field goal blocked. The Patriots proceeded to go three-and-out but Conall Sweeney’s punt rolled all the way down the Quakers four. PC used nine straight runs to get to the GA 43 then on the drive 10th’s play Jones hit Saydee on a screen pass and Saydee took it the rest of the way for a 14-0 lead with 1:13 left in the half.

Saydee made it 21-0 with his 80-yard TD run to start the third with the senior extending the PC lead to 27-0 at 9:01 in the quarter as he found the end zone on a run from 33 yards out.