Pope John Paul II ready to reverse the trend

The past hasn’t been pretty for Pope John Paul II.

Through five seasons, the Golden Panthers have had one season with more than one win (2011 at 5-6), compiling a 9-42 record since 2010.

They were last in the PAC-10 in Points For in 2013 (10.3), second to last in 2014 (11.3 ppg) and last in points against last season (39.2).

Such negativity, now to hit one with the positives.

Those stats are history, and second-year head coach Rory Graver and the rest of the Golden Panthers are itching to put PJP back on the map.

Pope John Paul II is ready to bounce back from a 1-9 finish in 2014. (Sam Stewart/ The Mercury)
Pope John Paul II is ready to bounce back from a 1-9 finish in 2014. (Sam Stewart/ The Mercury)

“This group has discussed it (finishing 1-9 last year),” Graver said. “You just kind of get that vibe that this group will be the group that begins the process of turning this program around. They’re tired of being 1-9 each year and they want to take that next step forward.

“We’re working hard everyday,” PJP quarterback Matt Duff said. “We’ve been working since November to turn it around. We don’t know if it will be this season or next season but we want to be the team that gets PJP on the map. We don’t want to be thought as the bottom of the PAC anymore. We want to keep working our way up.”

Duff returns behind center after finishing seventh in the Mercury-Area in passer rating (100.8). He threw for 1,121 yards with eight touchdowns a season prior. Jared Johns-Lupold returns at receiver after finishing second in the area with 42 receptions and seventh in receiving yards (501). David Debias, Ricky D’Aquilante return on the line while Andrew Salvo returns in the backfield for the Golden Panthers who dropped their last seven games after picking up a 14-7 victory over Pottstown in a Week 3 matchup that had snapped a nine-game losing streak dating back to 2013.

It’s a losing streak that Graver and PJP think can be eliminated quickly because of a renewed commitment to an offseason workout regimen, one that focused on a Cross-Fit heavy regimen in order to emphasize speed and strength.

“We made a commitment to really having a good weight training program,” Graver said. “We had 30-35 kids in there and they made a commitment since January. Overall our strength is going to be better than last year. Obviously we won’t be the biggest team out here so we have to be really good at the little things. We have to be really good executing on offense and we have to be a great tackling team this year.

“Last year we didn’t get started until April so we lost two to three months of training. Having the coaches around the team for a full year will help us alot.”

We Meet Again

Pope John Paul II will host Bishop McDevitt in its season opener September 5. Bishop McDevitt spoiled Graver’s PJP debut last season erupting for 20-unanswered second half points en route to a 33-14 victory. Duff was solid in the opener, throwing for 178 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. PJP was among a PAC-10 contingent that went 0-10 in non-league play during Week 1. It’s a statistic that Duff wants to rectify.

“We want to change that this year. Obviously it was heartbreaking. We came out flat in the second half and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year. We’re at home this year. Since I’ve been here it’s our first week where we open up at home. We want to get it going early and keep it going through the whole game.”

Pope John Paul II is ready to bounce back from a 1-9 finish in 2014. (Sam Stewart/ The Mercury)
Pope John Paul II is ready to bounce back from a 1-9 finish in 2014. (Sam Stewart/ The Mercury)

Camp Standouts

Jared Johns-Lupold, coming off the aforementioned successful 2014 season, has had a great camp according to Graver. He and Ricky D’Aquilante, a senior captain, have stood out all camp long.

“We just want to turn this program around as a whole,” D’Aquilante said. “This group of guys has what it takes to go out there and get some wins and do a good job. We became very strong, we bonded over that in the offseason, getting a good lift and getting stronger.”

Football Preview

Need more on Pope John Paul II? The Mercury Area Football Preview will feature much more on the Golden Panthers including a full roster, starting 11, five-year trend and statistical leaders from 2014. Also, be sure to see who the two players to watch are in a revamped preview section.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply