Physical Archbishop Wood rolls past Archbishop Ryan in PCL AAA final

WHITEMARSH — Archbishop Wood’s plan for Archbishop Ryan was simple.

The Vikings planned to come out physical, stay physical, impose their will on the Raiders and keep doing it until they had won. It’s what they planned to do and exactly what they did.

In the end, Wood hoisted its seventh straight Philadelphia Catholic League Class AAA trophy after a 35-14 win over Ryan at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.

“Just play physical,’ brusing fullback Alex Arcangeli said. “We wanted to out-physical them, because they a very physical team and we knew it was a good team, so we had to play physical and pound the ball.’

The final score is a bit deceiving, as Ryan scored its only points in the fourth quarter under a running clock against a Wood lineup made up of nearly all reserves.

Wood’s big, physical front established the tone and the tandem of Jarrett McClenton and Arcangeli in the backfield just kept hammering away up front. McClenton finished with 125 yards on 12 carries while Arcangeli had 68 on 12 totes and neither played after the 35-point threshold had been hit.

McClenton also had a 58-yard punt return.

“We wanted to be physical in the beginning and hopefully wear them down a little bit and just attack them,’ Wood coach Steve Devlin said. “We had a couple of big plays and Jarrett got loose on a couple plays, and he’s just tremendous.’

Ryan tried an onside kick to start the game, but Wood had practiced and prepared for it, so the Vikings started at midfield. A run-heavy drive, broken only by an 18-yard catch by senior Jake Cooper, ended with a five-yard Arcangeli score.

Wood had plenty of respect for Ryan’s backfield pair of Rob McDevitt and Samir Bullock, but neither runner had much room to run through.

After shutting down Ryan’s first drive by forcing a turnover on downs, the Vikings took over at their own 40. McClento ran for 12, Cooper ripped off a 26-yard gain then Arcangeli ran for 19 yards on two carries and McClenton capped it with a three-yard score.

Ryan’s second possession ended in a punt and Wood was rolling.

“We got up on them early and wore them out on the d-line,’ Wood senior lineman Ryan Bates said. “We went out and kicked their butts.’

Wood’s third possession ended in a third touchdown, this time a 23-yard run by McClenton, who ended up scoring four of the five Wood touchdowns. The drive itself was a methodical march, with two key third-down conversions.

On the first, quarterback Anthony Russo dove for a two-yeard gain on 3rd-and-inches and Arcangeli got five on a 3rd-and-1.

“Ryan and Wood are the two Catholic schools in our area so it’s definitely a bit of a rivalry,’ Arcangeli said. “We were definitely pumped going into this one. And it was the Catholic League championship.’

Ryan got the ball to start the second half, but went three-and-out. The punt found its way to McClenton at the Wood 42 and the tailback took off. He got a seam down the left sideline, slipped into space and outran the pursuit. An earlier blocked extra point made it 33-0 after the score, but Russo connected with Christian Lohin for two and got the clock rolling for good.

The Raiders did score two late touchdowns, the first a 45-yard pass from Matt Romano to Charles Gary on the first play of the fourth quarter. Wood fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Bullock capitalized by picking up all 30 yards, the score coming on a 20-yard run.

“He’s a great running back, so our front seven really focused on shutting their offensive line and Bullock down,’ Bates said. “He’s an MVP of the Catholic League, just a great runner.’

Bates and Arcangeli said there wasn’t any problem focusing on Ryan, even with a showdown with potent Imhotep Charter on deck. In fact, a few handfuls of Imhotep players and faithful found their way into the bleachers by the end of the game to get a look at Wood.

That game looms, but Saturday, the Vikings were only worried about celebrating their title.

“Each team is different,’ Devlin said. “This is the first Catholic League championship that they played for and won where it was this group. It’s a special bunch of kids.’

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