Football: Pope John Paul II overpowers Pottstown in District 1-4A semifinal

UPPER PROVIDENCE >> Coming off an emotional win in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship game last week, Pope John Paul II wanted to just come out and play solid football on Saturday afternoon and move on in the District 1-4A playoffs.

And the Golden Panthers accomplished that as strong kicking and defense gave them good field position throughout the first half. They took advantage of that by scoring on five of six possessions to take command against visiting Pottstown.

PJP cruised on from there for a 35-0 win in the district semifinals and will host Bishop Shanahan, a 29-28 winner over Pottsgrove on Friday night, for the title on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Luke Terlesky completed his first 10 pass attempts for the No. 1 seed Golden Panthers (11-0) and wound up with 163 yards passing and three touchdown tosses. Braden Reed caught five of the passes for 81 yards and a score, Denny Owens and Brent Mitala caught touchdown passes and Boyd Skarbek rushed for 37 yards and two TD’s. Dimark Lyons ran for 65 yards for the Trojans (5-6).

“We came in and did what we needed to do,” said Pope John Paul coach Scott Reed. “After an emotional win, we just wanted to be focused and get the job done.”

PJP senior kicker Ben Bosio booted the opening kickoff to the end zone, the defense stopped the Trojans for zero yards on three plays and a partially blocked punt gave the hosts the ball at the Pottstown 20 yard line. Skarbek ran the ball in from three yards out three plays later to give the Golden Panthers the lead three minutes into the contest.

That was typical of the first half as Pope John Paul began its drives from an average of the Pottstown 34 yard line.

“Our kids did a great job,” said coach Reed. “(Bosio) gets a lot of touchbacks and the defense got 3-and-outs. We were able to play on their end of the field.”

Pottstown’s Nazhier Booker (4) carries the ball as Pope John Paul II’s Ryan Lamson (1) pursues during a District 1-4A playoff game on Nov. 3 at Pope John Paul II. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The Panther defense dropped the No. 4 seed Trojans (5-6) for losses on seven plays, did not allow a pass completion and gave up only 20 yards in the first half. Senior T.J.Boccella had two solo sacks and was in on another for the hosts.

Meanwhile, the Panther offense was clicking with a short passing game, with Terlesky throwing for 140 yards from behind a solid line for his 10 straight completions to open the game. Reed made a diving catch for a 21-yard TD and Owens snared a 7-yard completion to make it 21-0 after a quarter. Then Mitala caught a 9-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter and Skarbek ran in from 14 yards fout or the 35-0 advantage with two minutes to go until the half.

“They have a heavy front, so we thought we needed to pass,” said Scott Reed.

A 64-yard run by Lyons was the longest gain of the day for either team. Pottstown senior running back Nahzier Booker ran for 33 yards, but had several large gains called back by some of Pottstown’s 10 penalties. Trojan quarterback Dillon Mayes had an 18-yard run, but was dropped for losses four times by the tough PJP defense.

Pope John Paul II’s Brent Mitala (5) tries to catch the ball as teammate Jack Lockrey (15) attempts to avoid during a District 1-4A playoff game on Nov. 3 at Pope John Paul II. (Courtesy Rick Martin)

The loss ended a much-improved season for Pottstown, which went 1-9 last year and 0-10 the year before.

“We exceeded expectations,” said Trojan coach Levert Hughes. “That senior group, they led us and set the benchmark for us. We have to build on that.

“We’ve got to get more kids out. Kids have got to want to play. Now that they see that Pottstown is back a little bit, they should want to play. We want to rebuild the tradition.”

Next, Pope John Paul will try to improve on last year’s playoff finish, a 38-14 loss to Interboro in the district final.

“We’ll get back to work and dial it up and get ready for everybody’s best,” said coach Reed. “Hopefully, we’ll be better prepared.”

Pope John Paul II 35, Pottstown 0

Pottstown 0 0 0 0 – 0

Pope John Paul II 21 14 0 0 – 35

PJP-B Skarbek 3 run (Bosio kick)

PJP-Reed 21 pass from Terlesky (Bosio kick)

PJP-Owens 7 pass from Terlesky (Bosio kick)

PJP-Mitala 9 pass from Terlesky (Bosio kick)

PJP-B Skarbek 14 run (Bosio kick)

Team Stats

PT PJP

First Downs 4 14

Yards Rushing 36-96 17-45

Yards Passing 15 181

Total Yards 111 226

Passes C-A-I 1-7-1 15-23-2

Fumbles 3-2 1-1

Penalties-Yds 11-107 3-25

Punts-Avg 3-19.7 1-40

Individual Stats

Rushing

Pottstown: Lyons 7-65; Booker 14-33; Washington 2-9; Robbins 1-(-5); Mayes 12-(-6), Totals 36-96

Pope John Paul II: B Skarbek 6-37, 2 TD’s; J Lucci 8-8; Witter 3-0, Totals 17-45, 2 TD’s

Passing

Pottstown: Mayes 1-7-15, 1 INT

Pope John Paul II: Terlesky 13-19-163, 3 TD’s, 1 INT; Witter 2-4-18, 1 INT, Totals 15-23-181, 3 TD’s, 2 INT’s

Receiving

Pottstown: Wilkerson 1-15

Pope John Paul II: Reed 5-81, 1 TD; Owens 3-41, 1 TD; Baldino 2-13; DeAngelo 2-13; Mitala 1-9, 1 TD; B Skarbek 1-9; J Lucci 1-15, Totals 15-181, 3 TD’s

Interceptions-Pottstown: Mayes, Cotton, Pope John Paul II: Mitala

Sacks-Pope John Paul II: Boccella 2, Myers

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