N-G takes the field
before a September game vs. O'Hara.
The Saints Go Marching In
On 11/8/14, at
Cardinal O'Hara High, Ss. Neumann-Goretti, coached by Chalie Szydlik, defeated
Catholic, 32-14, to terminate the Burrs' 52-game winning streak in Catholic League regular season play,
and playoffs. The streak was earned in the Blue (2006-07) and AA divisions (2008-14). Look below for
the boxscore, Ed "Huck" Palmer's website report and the names of the main participants on offense and
defense. Matt "Cauls" McCauley's complete photo set is here.
32, W. CATHOLIC 14
WC: Calil Wortham
27 run (run failed)
|C||Mario Del Vecchio||E||Emil Moody|
|G||Rashid Saunders||E||Matt McKeown|
|G||Naquise Childs||T||Joe Herrin|
|T||Joe D'Emilio||T||Rashid Saunders|
|T||Pat Banning||ILB||Michael DiFrancesco|
|TE||Matt McKeown||ILB||Jack Taylor|
|QB||Ray Lenhart||OLB||Fabian Matthews|
|RB||Khalil Roane||OLB||Khalil Roane|
|FB||Mike DiFrancesco||CB||Aamir Brown|
|WR||Emil Moody||CB||Joe Richardson|
|WR||Takeem Ford||S||Takeem Ford|
|*-depending on formation|
Website report by Ed "Huck" Palmer . . .
PCL AA FINAL
Neumann-Goretti 32, West Catholic 14
Everything eventually comes to and end, right? But how many people outside of those close to the N-G football program thought that West’s 52-game Catholic League winning streak (8 straight league championships in Blue, then AA) would end on this night? Probably no more than a handful, if that, is my guess. In all, counting the regular season, playoffs, and two subregional contests the Burrs had frolicked their way to 54 straight league wins that stretched over parts of nine seasons. During the streak they outscored their opponents 2,284-to-478 (42-to-9 average). Their last lost came in the middle of the ’06 season at the hands of Conwell-Egan, 26-12. Even this season West had outscored their league opponents 204-to-40 (41-to-8 average) in five games played. In the teams’ first meeting West scored the games first 30 points before allowing a couple of fourth quarter scores in a, 30-13, victory. So, how did the Saints beat West for the first time since ’03 (10 games) and win their first football title since 1954? Simple! Their leaders played like stars and the complimentary players all made contributions. Was West overconfident, especially since star sr. QB Antwain McCollum returned to action after suffering a broken lower leg six weeks ago? Maybe a tad, but yours truly didn’t sense that on the sidelines prior to the game. Plus, thinking something on those lines might take away from N-G’s great night. Quite frankly, the Saints outplayed West for large stretches and when given the chance to do something that no team has done in eight+ seasons, they stepped on the Burrs’ throats and never let go. Ok, we’ll have more on the end-of-the-streak as the days go by, but for now it’s time to pay homage to the Saints. For my money, there were a handful of sequences that were instrumental in N-G’s win. First, West had started the scoring on a 27-yard run by soph. RB Calil Wortham after a muffed punt by the Saints (recovery by soph. DB Ahmad Kent). Then, on the subsequent kickoff another muff occurred and West’s jr. DB WR/DB Jameer Bryson made the recovery at the N-G 25-yard line. From here, three rushes produced a 1st-and-goal for the Burrs at the 8-yard line. Needing a play sr. DE Matt McKeown stripped the ball from Wortham and soph. DE/WR Emil Moody recovered and returned it 32 yards to the 47-yard line. If the Burrs cash in there and go up two scores then it’s possible that the mindsets of both teams change. The Saints didn’t score off of this turnover, as they stalled at the WC 26-yard line, but they tilted the field and it stayed that way for the remainder of the half. N-G tied the game early in the second quarter on a 1-yard sneak by sr. QB Ray Lenhart. They would grab the lead with 4:57 left in the half when jr. RB/DB Khalil Roane, who was sensational throughout, uncorked a 46-yard gallop. The next huge sequence for the Saints came after the Burrs had regained the lead to start the second half. West needed just six plays, all rushes, to travel 65 yards. Wortham unleashed a 47-yard rumble to begin the drive, then sr. RB/DB Kharee Ruley ended it with a 5-yard burst. Ruley also provided the conversion run to give West a brief, 14-12, lead. I say brief because the Saints only needed four plays to cover 86 yards on their next series. The key play here was a 55-yard pass between Lenhart and dynamic soph. WR/DB Aamir Brown on a 3rd-and-8 play from the 16-yard line. A roughing the passer call was tacked on and that brought the ball to the West 14-yard line. From here, jr. RB/DB Miles Brewer easily got the left edge and scampered home. Brewer added the conversion run and N-G took a 20-14 lead with 6:31 left in the third quarter. Another huge moment for the Saints came on WC’s next possession. The Burrs held the ball for twelve plays and had a first down at the Saints’ 19 yard line. However, a delay of game on West pushed them back to the twenty-four. Then, on third down Moody and jr. DL Amire Tyler combined to sack McCollum, who fumbled. N-G’s sr. Ol/DL Joe D’Emilio recovered. Soon after this, the Saints were faced with 3rd-and-8 early in the fourth quarter. They converted as Lenhart hit Moody along the left sidelines for 24 yards to the West 37-yard line. Next, N-G would have a 4th-and-5. Again, they made the play they needed to, as Lenhart calmly and perfectly found sr. WR/DB Takeem Ford down the right hash for a 32-yard score with 8:23 left. Great throw! West would fail to convert on fourth down from the N-G 48-yard line on their next chance. For the Saints there was only one thing left to do. Cement this baby! Again, on third down they came up with a gigantic play. This time Roane raced 40 yards to the West 5-yard line. Two plays later, Brewer slid in from the one. Hey, Brewer touched the ball three times and every time he found the end zone (One conversion). Talk about making the most out of your chances. West had a late chance to score, but failed to do so. As the final seconds began to wind off the clock it was easy to predict how the Saints and their fans would react. Extreme jubilation! And rightfully so. The Saints ran 54 plays and amassed 383 impressive yards on a Burrs’ defense that in five other league games only allowed a total of 393 yards on 204 plays. Phew! The 32 points scored by the Saints is the most scored against West in a league game since 2002 when they beat Neumann, 55-48, in a wild playoff game. This was a 87-game span! Only one other team had reached as much as 30 points against West in this time (Wood, 30-12, in ’05 final). As I said earlier, there are many headliners for the Saints on this night, but right at the top of the list is Roane, who used patience and savvy in turning 31 totes into 209 yards. Only seven times during the streak did West yield a 100-yard rusher and the top rusher here only went for 143 yards (Wood’s Bob DeLucas in ’07). Talk about getting hot at the right time, but Roane has set a season-high in rushing yards in each of the last four weeks; 110 (vs McDevitt), 162 (vs LC), 170 (vs LC), and the 209 tonight. Roane’s totals pushed him over the 1,000-yard barrier. The first N-G rusher since 2006 (Mark McPherson - 1,306) to accomplish this. Congrats! He had plenty of help from the boys up front in this one. I’m almost certain that the N-G staff would state that this was the OL’s best performance of the season. These members included: sr. C Mario DelVecchio, G’s jr. Rashid Saunders and jr. Naquise Childs, and T’s D’Emilio and jr. Pat Banning. Rugged sr. FB/LB Michael DiFrancesco blocked feverishly throughout, as did McKeown at TE before leaving with a knee injury. Best wishes to Matt. Lenhart finished 6-for-14 for 164 yards. He went 4-for-4, for 113 yards in the second half. He was in control and settled all night. The brassy Brown notched four catches for 108 yards. Defensively, DiFrancesco led with 8 tackles (7 solos). Jr. LB Fabian Matthews was solid and next with seven stops. The rangy Moody was active with 1.5 sacks, while forcing one fumble (Recovered by Ford) and recovering another. Also contributing were; Brewer (six tackles), Tyler and sr. LB Jack Taylor who evenly split eight stops, sr. DL Joe Herrin (injured in 2nd half) notched a sack, and Brown made three stops and had three pass defends in the secondary. For West, emotions really let out at the end of this one. In some cases it was tough to watch. The Burrs played without sr. WR/DB Ahkil Crumpton (school related issue) and it’s hard to imagine that his absence wasn’t felt. As mentioned, McCollum returned and though he looked healthy, rust was evident. He only managed a single yard on 21 plays where he was directly involved (1-for-10, 18 yards passing). He took the loss very hard, but needs to remember that he had a terrific career that witnessed him become the school’s all-time leading passer. Keep your head up, kid. Wortham paced the offense with 123 yards on 16 carries, while Ruley (9-49) and jr. RB Sharif Fennell (3-53) posted respectable numbers. Interestingly, West’s 14-season streak of producing a 1,000-yard rusher, easily the longest amongst city teams, came to end. Let’s stick the knife in a little further. Smile! Ruley ended the season with 881 yards. On defense, West was led by jr. LB Amir Postley and sr. DB Dave Swen who each posted nine stops. Jr. DL Tymir Oliver registered a sack and two other TFLs. Ruley added six tackles, while jr. DB Craig Jones notched five stops and four pass defends. Sr. LB Neil Satterwhite had a sack. Neumann-Goretti will play Prep Charter this coming weekend for the D-12 2A City Title.
Photos by Matt "Cauls" McCauley.
Khalil Roane takes off as Pat Banning (76) and Mario Del Vecchio (52) look on.
Ray Lenhart prepares to throw as Michael DiFrancesco (44) protects.