Wissahickon ends season with loss to Upper Moreland

LOWER GWYNEDD >> It’s been a tough year for Wissahickon football.

Heading into their season-ending senior night against Upper Moreland, the Trojans, with a new coach, had slogged through a 1-8 season (0-6 in the conference) and were looking for a chance to end a difficult year on a half-decent note.

Rodney Morgan, better known as the Upper Moreland Golden Bear’s top running back, made sure that that wasn’t the case. Morgan ripped through Wissahickon’s defense for 181 yards on 16 carries and 4 touchdowns on the way to Upper Moreland’s 35-16 win.

“Rodney ran the ball,” Upper Moreland coach Adam Beach said, “but our line did a great job opening up holes for him.”

“Wissahickon was doing some stuff up front, and our line picked it up right away,” Beach said. “I was very pleased with the offensive line’s performance tonight — it’s really what gave Rodney the holes to run through.”

“He broke through and scored, but he wouldn’t have been able to get it going if the line wasn’t working like that,” Beach said.

It got going right from the start. Morgan was the only Golden Bear to see touches on Upper Moreland’s opening drive, and he made it to the end zone after 73 yards on just four carries to score the game’s first points. He tacked on a one-yarder for six in the next drive and a four-yard scoring jog two after that, followed by Nick DeLucas’ touchdown to really put the game out of hand late in the second quarter.

Morgan scored again shortly into the third quarter to get the clock running, and though Wissahickon was able to tack on a pair of scores, the game was never in serious doubt.

Offensively, Wissahickon moved the ball, but struggled to finish drives. They had a pair of first-and-goals in the first half on a pair of lengthy drives, but came away fruitless each time.

“The good thing is that we did a lot of what we planned on doing,” Wissahickon coach Mike Borkowski said. “Quick passes, a lot of rollouts. We got some yards. That’s part of it, but it was a little tough finishing.”

Wissahickon got its two scores in the fourth quarter, one the legs of quarterback Mike Schoenleber (a two-yarder) and the other on a 46-yard Schoenleber heave to Donavan Hartsock.

Schoenleber finished his day with 250 yards through the air on 18-30 passing. Hartsock led the team with 84 yards receiving, on a team-leading six catches.

The win almost assuredly put the 8-2 Golden Bears in the District I AAA playoffs, though Beach and Co. don’t yet know who UM will be playing next week.

“I’ve learned to give it to the seniors,” Beach said. “At this point in the season, you kind of have to turn it over to them. We’re going to live and die with what our seniors are able to do.”

“We’re going to trust them,” he went on. “When the game’s in doubt, we’ll put the ball in their hands and see what they can do.”

A high note for Upper Moreland seemingly brings an equally low one for the Trojans, but that’s not how Borkowski necessarily sees it. He kept some of the program’s coaching conitnuity intact after Paul Noon was suspended early in the year, and did the best he could with the tough hand he was dealt.

“We had a lot of kids quit early in the year when things got tough,” he said. “The kids here didn’t, no matter what. We’d be down 56-0, but they never laid it down.”

“Tonight, we kept telling them ‘Play it. Don’t worry about the score, just play hard,’” he went on. “And they did. We’re very proud of them. They showed their true character, and that’s what we look for.”

Mike Marino, the team’s presumptive quarterback heading into the year, was a particularly stellar example of said character. He got hurt early in the season—the dreaded, never-quite-healing high-ankle sprain — and took a spot in the booth offering insight into what the Trojans were doing on offense.

This is rarely seen at the high school level, and Borkowski said that it’s testament to the kind of football mind that Marino has.

“He sounds like a coach on the field, and sees everything really well,” he went on. “It’s a shame he got hurt.”

He’ll probably play ball at the college level — “sprint football,” where the weight limit for players is just 172 pounds, emphasizing speed and agility rather than size or strength. Only nine schools have teams in the Collegiate Sprint Football League, among them, Chestnut Hill College and the University of Pennsylvania.

“He is going to be an excellent coach when he gets out of college,” Borkowski said. “He’s going to be a good offensive coordinator somewhere. He knows what he’s doing.”


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