La Salle facing tall task in battle against Parkland

Parkland High head football coach Jim Morgans remembers the last time his Trojans played La Salle in a PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal football game.

It was the postseason of the 2012 scholastic football campaign, the scene was Northeast High School and the day did not end positively for the visitors.

“We played fairly well defensively,” Morgans recalled, “but we couldn’t get out of our own way offensively.”

The game ended with La Salle moving on to the state semifinals following a 28-7 victory.

And while Morgans doesn’t believe any of his current Trojans played that day, he does remember it was the first of three straight seasons in which his Trojans’ season came to a close at this exact stage of the playoffs.

And naturally, he’s not too anxious to see it happen for a fourth straight year.

While the Trojans were vanquished by St. Joseph’s Prep in each of the last two years, Morgans isn’t ready to watch his team bow out in the same scenario — no matter who the opponent.

After last weekend’s 63-21 win over previously unbeaten Wyoming Valley West, many Parkland players expressed disappointment that they would be meeting La Salle, instead of attempting to gain some revenge on the Prep.

“They’re both the same to me,” Morgans said of La Salle and St. Joseph’s. “All I know is, La Salle’s well-coached both offensively and defensively, they’re big and solid up front all the way across.

“We had a passing scrimmage with them at Souderton last summer, and I was really impressed with them. No. 25 (all-purpose back Nick Rinella) is a heckuva player, and I really like their tailback (Syaire Madden). He’s a thick kid with a lot of speed.”

Although they ultimately won easily last weekend, the Trojans got a scare last weekend in the win over of Wyoming Valley West.

With the game tied at 14 in the second quarter, a WVW defensive back intercepted Parkland quarterback Devante Cross in the end zone and returned the pick 103 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.

Unshaken, the Trojans simply scored 35 unanswered points and wound up on the plus side of the blowout win.

“I like our football team,” Morgans said. “We have some real good kids, and this is going to be a big challenge for us.”

The aspect of his team Morgans is most enamored with is its collective drive to play football, including a ravenous desire to practice.

“Our kids are excited about playing football,” the coach said. “It’s easy and fun to play when you have thousands of fans on the sidelines cheering for you, but our players love to practice. They love playing whether there’s 7,000 or seven people watching them.

“Three of our starters are basketball players, and even though the basketball season has already started, they’re still out there every day practicing hard.”

And the Trojans have their fair share of talent, too.

Cross is a Boston College commit, although he will play defensively in college, while two-way lineman Noel Brouse is headed to Syracuse and receiver Kenny Yeboah will play at Temple.

But for now, there’s another big game to play, and a four-year hurdle to get past.

“We’ve played from behind a few times this year,” Morgans said, “and we may have to again.

“But our kids are excited, and that has me feeling pretty good, too.”


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