Archbishop Wood’s air attack too much for Archbisop Carroll in PCL AAA semis

WARMINSTER >> Nobody has been able to stop Anthony Russo and the high powered Archbishop Wood offense all year long. Friday was no different, as the Vikings stormed past Archbishop Carroll on their way to a 49-6 victory in PCL Class AAAA semifinal action.

Russo, who only played one half of football because of his team’s sizeable lead, torched the Patriots through the air. The Rutgers commit finished 9-14 for 218 yards and three touchdowns, then added another on the ground for good measure.

“Obviously their passing game was dynamite,” Archbishop Carroll coach Joe Powel said. “They made some big plays on us, but the kids fought, they knew what they were up against and the kids came out and fought so that’s all I can ask.”

It wasn’t just Russo that had a big night for the Vikings. Raheem Blackshear and Shawn Thompson also had their way with the Carroll defense for most of the night.

Thompson was Wood’s biggest ground threat, totaling 84 yards on just four carries, including a 55 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 early on.

Blackshear seemed to be Russo’s favorite target in the passing game, finishing the game with 92 yards on three catches. Of those three catches none was more impressive than his 66 yard touchdown, which saw him reverse fields not once, but twice to avoid defenders on his way to the end zone.

“He (Blackshear) is one of our most explosive guys on the team,” Russo said. “Just with his sheer speed and agility we like to get him the ball in space and that’s something we were able to do tonight and he took advantage of it for us.”

After facing this team just two weeks before this matchup and losing 54-0, Powel and his staff knew they needed to try something different on the offensive end. They decided to install the wishbone offense to try and get around the edges more, but it didn’t seem to work against the much bigger Vikings.

“We looked at some different things that we could do and we put in the wishbone and thought we could attack the perimeter a little better because they really hurt us inside,” Powel said. “We thought that would work and that we could keep it simple and take some clock away to keep their offense off the field.”

The change in offensive strategy was actually something that Wood was ready for, and they did a great job holding their opponents to just 164 yards of total offense despite the different look up front.

“We knew they were going to come out with something different.” Archbishop Wood coach Steve Devlin said. “We worked on some different things we thought they could do and funny as it is wishbone was actually one of them so we were able to work on it a little bit in practice but Joe (Powel) does a great job and he’s a great coach and they are always scheming and getting stuff done so I knew they’d be a tough opponent.

Unfortunately for Carroll, Wood didn’t need much time to score as they would find the end zone on all six drives led by Russo in the opening half and just looked out matched in the secondary against his big arm.

Next up for Wood is a matchup against a foe they’re quite familiar with, as they get set to take on rival Archbishop Ryan in the PCL AAA Championship game.

“We know Ryan is one of our biggest rivals, Russo said. “They’re a real good team that’s going to play us tough and they’re well coached so that’s something that we have to prepare for with a great week of preparation in film and on the practice field.”

As for Carroll, while their hopes of a PCL championship or district championship are gone, they still have one more game against Norristown next week to try and end the season on a high note and send the seniors off with a win.

“This was a good step for our program, to make the playoffs,” Powel said. “This week coming up you just tell the guys that this is the last one for our seniors, for our 2015 football team, and let’s go out there and end the season on a high note and get ready to move us into next year.”

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