Academy Park states its case in shutout of Bonner-Prendergast

SHARON HILL >> Academy Park defensive end Togba Porte started Friday night’s nonleague game against Bonner-Prendergast the same way he always does at Knight Park, by crooning a beautiful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Porte then took the field. He recovered the opening kickoff and drilled Joseph Hartley-Vittoria for a loss on the Knights’ first defensive series. Thus, Porte and Co. were well on their way to a 32-0 victory and their second consecutive shutout.

After the final whistle, it was Bonner coach Greg Bernhardt who was singing the praises of his vaunted opponent.

“I think they’re the best team in the county,” Bernhardt said. “They’re just so athletic on defense. They’re fast. They’re strong. We might have a hole to run through and they quickly fill it and it’s gone.”

The Friars didn’t gain a yard until the one-minute mark of the first quarter. Before that, their offensive output consisted of six rushes for minus-1 yard, zero completed passes and an interception that resulted in a 12-0 Academy Park lead. Will McQueen took the first of five picks for the Knights to the house, dragging the Friars’ Tom Millison the whole way.

“We have so much talent,” said All-Delco defensive back Clarence Buchanan, who claimed two of Evan Raiburn’s interceptions. “We’ve been coached up so well to make the most of our talent. And when our second team comes in, they play like us. They do their job the same way.”

Academy Park opened the scoring on the third play of the game. Taylor Moors hit Jawan Collins on a wide receiver screen for a 48-yard touchdown. From there, the Friars couldn’t establish the run against Porte and a stout defensive line.

“First and foremost, we’re fast and physical. That’s one thing you can’t defend is speed,” said Porte, a junior. “We’re just physical and attack the ball on every play.”

Raiburn, a first-year starter, was thrust into an unenviable situation. Up two scores in the second quarter, the Knights forced him to take to the air to middling results. Nelson Warlo tipped a pass that Buchanan snared for pick number two. With 2:06 remaining in the half, Buchanan intercepted another errant throw. This one he returned 55 yards for six to send Academy Park to the locker room with a 26-0 lead.

“I saw him throw an out,” Buchanan said. “I was going to tackle (the receiver) and they overthrew him. First thing is catch it, secure it, then look for a touchdown.”

The defense continued to shine in the second half. Warlo picked off Raiburn as did Philip Day-nuah, whose interception effectively brought the game to a close. The Friars (0-3) finished with a paltry 71 yards of total offense, seven first downs, and five turnovers.

“They’re really good,” Bernhardt said when asked about his team’s struggles to move the ball. “That’s what made it difficult.”

The Knights’ offense wasn’t half-bad either. Moors and Collins hooked up in the third quarter for a 13-yard score and Duke Wesley eclipsed the century-mark, picking up 128 yards on 15 carries. Moors completed five of 12 passes for 126 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The signal-caller also rushed for a score.

The challenge for Academy Park (3-0) now is staying grounded. The Knights know they’re good. Head coach Jason Vosheski said his kids “have more confidence than they know what to do with.”

The trick is acting like that’s not the case.

“We don’t get too high on ourselves,” Porte said. “If we’re going to act all high and mighty we’re going to get beat. We always say to ourselves we’re not that good.”

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