CHELTENHAM >> Both Wissahickon and Cheltenham entered Friday night’s Suburban One League American Conference game severely in need of a win.
It was the Panthers that earned one. Behind a brilliant performance from Braden Mack, Cheltenham claimed a 30-14 win, bringing its American Conference record back above .500 to 3-2.
It seems Mack gets his own writeup on a week-to-week basis and it is with good reason. But Mack had one of his better performances of the year Friday as the senior ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns and added another 68 yards and a touchdown passing.
“No. 1 was our number one priority to stop and we didn’t do it,” said Wissahickon coach Mike Borkowski of Mack. “We knew it. Everybody I think in the stadium knew it, we just didn’t do it.”
While Mack has clearly been the focal point of the Panther offense the entire season, Cheltenham has struggled at times to find a complement to Mack. It found one Friday night in junior running back Yasin Abdul-Haqq, who ran for 129 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
“We got to keep each other up,” said Mack to how the offense can consistently find a complement to him. “Every time I go in the huddle I say ‘yo we got to set the tone every play,’”
The Wissahickon offense failed to get moving all night. The Trojans could only manage 42 yards rushing and they did not fare much better when they opted to go to the air although the passing game managed to rack up some yards late in the game.
“I was surprised, I thought we would get them with a couple inside runs and we would be able to move them off the ball,” Borkowski said. “They penetrated well and stopped us, I was a little surprised by that.”
Cheltenham throughout the season has been susceptible to self-inflicted wounds with penalties and turnovers. Friday night was yet another example, but the Trojans were unable to take advantage of the Panther miscues.
“We were shooting ourselves in the foot, they got themselves a couple times,” Borkowski said. “Just bad timing on a turnover or a sack, we just got bad timing, we’re just a little bit off all the time.”
Cheltenham seems to be making slow but steady progress as it faces a difficult challenge in Plymouth Whitemarsh next week. The game should stand as a measuring stick for the Panthers to find out where exactly they stand in the American Conference.
For the Trojans, they have two home conference games remaining against Upper Moreland and Upper Merion. As Wissahickon looks to get off the schneid and earn its first conference victory, both Upper Moreland and Upper Merion pose formidable challenges although they are certainly winnable games for the Trojans.