UPPER DARBY >> At a certain point, the adjectives to describe how good Tyric Gould is on a football field run out. You’re left watching in awe.
Cardinal O’Hara’s senior defensive end/outside linebacker was one of the best in the Catholic League last fall. This year, he is tearing every opposing lineman and quarterback to shreds.
“Tyric probably has six-and-a-half, seven sacks in five games after tonight,” coach BJ Hogan said following the Lions’ 21-0 win over Bonner & Prendergast Friday night at Upper Darby High’s Memorial Field.
Gould notched three sacks of Friars quarterback Shon Nelson, along with an incalculable number of hurries, tackles and tackles for loss.
He was seemingly in the backfield on every play.
For Hogan and his defensive coaches, watching Gould dominate should make for a fun film session this weekend.
“My (defensive line) coach, Coach (Joe) Goldschmidt always tells me to look at the helmet because the helmet (of the offensive lineman) is going to take you wherever you’ve got to go,” Gould said. “I try to look where the tackle is going, and I try to make my move from there.”
Gould was poised to have a big game after a gut-wrenching loss to Bishop McDevitt last Saturday. After going undefeated in Catholic League Blue Division a year ago, the Lions took their 10-7 defeat to the Lancers to heart.
“We had to get something back for the team because we were very disappointed after last week,” Gould said. “We hadn’t lost in so long, so it felt real bad to taste that loss. I told the team, we don’t want to have that feeling ever again. So we have to come out here tonight, do our job and do what we have to do. Everything would be all right.”
The Lions certainly answered Gould’s call. While Gould was the star, he was far from the only standout. The defensive unit, headed by legendary coordinator Jim Connor, stymied Bonner & Prendie all night long. At times, it seemed unfair. Gould and Co. charged the backfield like a pack of rabid, uh, Lions.
Tom Wertz had a strong game on the line, alongside Ken Borrelli. Linebacker Cameron Blair was all over the field, too, and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter to set up O’Hara’s final touchdown.
“We have great defensive coaches and they worked with us all week in practice,” said Wertz, a senior co-captain with Gould. “They knew a lot of Bonner’s plays and they knew what they tended to do and we repped it all week in practice and I think that helped us a lot. Our defense really played a great game in all facets. I’m really proud of them. We covered well, the D-line played great and the linebackers played great. It’s fun when the defense comes together like that.
The Lions (4-1, 2-1) limited the Friars (0-4, 0-2) to 86 yards of total offense. They forced three turnovers, including interceptions by Kendall Jones and Derrick Patrick. BP’s ground attack mustered only 32 yards on 25 carries. The Lions defense racked up eight tackles for a loss.
For the season, O’Hara’s defense is holding the opposition to 81.4 yards of total offense per game. The Lions have outscored teams, 142-13 and recorded their third shutout of the season against the Friars.
“In my mind, we haven’t given up any points. We threw a pick-6 against McDevitt … and tonight we obviously did some good stuff shutting Bonner
down, their run and pass games,” Hogan said. “Seeing Tyric and seeing Cameron Blair kind of put it together. … Two years ago as sophomores when we were getting pounded, it was difficult, but it’s now their turn to kind of play good defense and get out and do some good things. It’s fun to see those guys learning the system throughout the years and finally now, as seniors, they get to play the system and just play fast because they know exactly where they need to be.”
As for Gould, perhaps he is out to prove to the Catholic League that he’s an elite talent.
“I still think he’s upset that he wasn’t a First Team All-Catholic last year. In my mind, he’s the best defensive end/outside linebacker in the league,” Hogan said. “He should be a scholarship guy somewhere. He’s a big-time player, he’s special, he’s an incredible athlete and is a motor guy. He’s a player who will make plays all the way across the other side of the field. These teams we’re facing try to bootleg out against him, and I’m like, you guys are crazy. That’s not going to work with him. He’s too athletic.”
O’Hara and Bonner were locked in a defensive battle for the better part of the first half. That is, until Taseer Jones was set loose. The diminutive running back gained big chunks of yardage late in the second quarter, then caught a screen pass from quarterback Luke Sprague and darted 30 yards to the end zone with less than two minutes to go in the opening half to put the Lions on the scoreboard.
“We’ve had our ups and downs on offense, but tonight was definitely a good night. Those guys were out making plays and we stepped it up,” said Wertz, who plays both ways on the line. “It’s a good confidence booster. You know, a game like this I think is going to help our offense in the future. Last week we played OK on offense, but we had so many turnovers and that really hurt us. It’s good to see those guys have a big game, it will really help them a lot. I’m pretty confident in the future, we have a good season ahead of us.”
Sprague (5-for-7, 99 yards) connected with Chris Kirby for a 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. O’Hara sealed the win after Blair returned a Bonner & Prendie fumble to the 10-yard line. Nick Kutufaris ran in the Lions’ third score to make it 21-0.