On the Trail With Ted
Football 2010

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 Observations, notes, etc., on games I've seen during the 2010 season . . .

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September Reports
October Reports

DEC. 18
CLASS AAAA FINAL
North Allegheny 21, La Salle 0
  Shortly after this one ended, offensive coordinator Brett Gordon said solemnly, "I didn't see this coming." Methinks he was not alone. One week after dropping 38 points on North Penn, and storming to victory on the strength of FIVE comebacks, the Explorers shot blanks. This time five was a bad number, as that was how many turnovers they committed. I'm thinking most people's thoughts matched mine. They'll get it going eventually . . . They'll get it going eventually . . . They'll get it going eventually . . . Guess not. It was truly hard to believe. La Salle ran 52 plays. Just ONE produced more than 17 yards -- a 25-yard pass from soph WR Sean Coleman. NA was big and physical and star sr. RB Jamal Abdur-Rahman never truly got going (16-62; 3,974 for career). Passing opportunities were available, but jr. QB Matt Magarity, so efficient vs. North Penn, had persistent delivery problems on a chilly night. It just wasn't his night, folks. Midway through the second quarter, with the score at 7-0, Magarity did make three straight connections, interspersed with other plays, on a drive that set up first and 10 at the 18. Magarity then zipped eight yards on a draw, but a procedure call followed, Abdur-Rahman was limited to four yards, then a pass by Magarity was slightly tipped at the line of scrimmage. Soph Ryan Winslow was going to try a 28-yard field goal, but there was another penalty and a change was made; the offense came back on the field. Magarity's down-the-middle pass was intercepted at the 3. La Salle entered NA territory just twice in the second half (and the first instance was "only" to the 48). Interceptions ended those two possessions. On its first series, NA's offense looked like something out of the 1970s. Every play was a run and all (except for one) were uncorked out of a double-tight formation. Well, vanilla didn't last long as the flavor of the night. The Tigers' second TD came on a double reverse and the third was almost posted on a pass OFF a reverse; the play carried 30 yards to the 1. The best defensive moments were enjoyed by sr. DE Joe Naji, sr. DT Ryan Geiger (three straight tackles to start the second half), sr. ILB Connor Daly and sr. OLB Mark DiFrangia (sack, TFL). Not much more to say. Head coach Drew Gordon's first statement to his team in the post-game gathering was this: "That was an ass-kicking." He knew there was nothing to gain by sugar-coating. Congrats to the Explorers on a wonderful campaign overall. Like always, in every season, no matter what happens, this program exudes class and covering the games is always a pleasant experience . . . Well, that's it for football season (except for final stats, all-star teams, etc). Forty down (counting time at a suburban paper; 33 at the DN) and many more to go, hopefully. Thanks for paying attention.

DEC. 18
CLASS AA FINAL
West Catholic 50, South Fayette 14
  West is best!! And perhaps you're now muttering, "Yeah, and it was two years ago, too." No doubt the '08 squad was an all-timer, witness that its top three offensive players, quarterback Curtis Drake (Penn State, as receiver) and co-tailbacks Rob Hollomon (Kent State) and Raymond Maples (Army), have advanced to the D-1 level. But in that year's final, "Enjoy the Show" became "Experience the Heartache" as the Burrs fell to Wilmington, 35-34, in double overtime. So, now we flash ahead to this afternoon and what will remain one of the most enduring memories. On the final scrimmage play of the first half, sr. QB Anthony Reid hit sr. WR Jaelen Strong-Rankin with an EASY, 25-yard TD pass on a right-corner fade -- no defender was even close enough to even THINK about breaking up the play -- and sr. WR Quran Kent, lined up in the backfield, ran for the conversion. Those two plays made it 34-14 and within moments the Burrs were headed to their locker room. At HersheyPark Stadium, the teams must head toward the stands and then down concrete steps. As the Burrs arrived at those stands, numerous recent players were perched against the restraining fence. They knew this game was history. The joy they displayed was unabashed. They screamed and shouted and pounded the shoulder pads of the current players as they passed by and descended. There were even some quick hugs. It was quite a scene. And quite cathartic, no doubt, for the grads. Yesterday I attended West's pep rally and the principal, Sister Mary Bur, mentioned that the team had benefited by playing this year's semifinal at HersheyPark because a win in that venue had canceled the '08 negative vibes for those players still around. Agreed. Anyway, the Burrs mostly frolicked in this one. Though SF did impressively drive downfield on its first possession and score the game's first TD, and West's first chance did result in an interception, the mood along the sideline was NOT "uh, oh, here we go again." There was a certain calm. Not a hint of panic. SF's next possession produced one first down and then on third-and-10, sr. LB Kevin Burns and sr. DE Jim Lynch combined to notch a 9-yard sack. The punt placed the ball at West's 19 and -- oh, baby! -- it didn't stay there long. Soph TB David Williams zoomed 81 yards to the opposite end zone, flashing a move or three along the way, and the explosion was on. The next possession failed, but West tallied four more TDs before halftime. A 75-yard, no-problem fly from Reid to Strong-Rankin, a 7-yard keeper by Reid (after a fumble recovery by sr. CB Brandon Hollomon, Rob's brother; hit by Burns) and then the killers -- two TDs in the final 1:07 after SF had crept within 20-14. The first was a 16-yard burst by Hollomon (right after Reid had hit Kent for 24 yards; Quran finished his career with 1,561 career receiving yards). SF opted to NOT play it safe and get out of the first half with no further damage. The sequence went incompletion, hold, incompletion and yet another incompletion, and then the punt was a disaster. The ball traveled just eight yards and when it bounced high, the coverage guys immediately caught it to prevent even more of a mess. One problem: if they'd let the ball bounce, roll and settle, another 5-6 seconds could have been burned. Instead, the clock showed 0:15. Reid passed incomplete, but there was still more time, of course, and West took advantage with the 25-yard hookup to Strong-Rankin. Again, it was TOO EASY. The sequence told everyone, "West WILL win this game. No other result is even remotely possible." The Burrs then roared downfield to start the third quarter. Hollomon, who finished his career with 3,264 rushing yards, ripped off a 39-yard gain. Williams added a 13-yarder on which he fumbled, but recovered the ball even though, oh, about 67 South Fayette defenders were much closer to it when it hit the turf. He then ran in from the 4 two plays later. Thereafter, the foot was mostly removed from the pedal. The Burrs tried, of course, but an urgency was no longer present. They were riding things out, just waiting to explode in ecstasy when the clock hit 0:00. (Sr. Joshua Mathis, the third TB in the rotation, did have a 26-yard TD run shortly into the fourth quarter.) The next possession began with a carry for sr. FB Dion Givens (thanks to assistant Lincoln Townsend Jr.), who had blocked so passionately since becoming the starter late in the regular season. He was nervous, and even bobbled the ball. But he held on and picked up a yard. Burns finished with 13 tackles, including nine solos and four big pops on special teams. Lynch managed eight, including a sack and two other TFLs that went for 21 yards. Sr. LB Anthony McDonnaugh and jr. DB Kevin Malone halved eight tackles. SF totaled minus-6 yards and no first downs in the second half (well, except for one on a penalty). About the only thing the Burrs did not do well was douse coach Brian Fluck with Gatorade. It was very cold, so perhaps they had second thoughts just as they reached him. Or maybe Brian successfully fended them off. The liquid got his legs, but not much more. Another attempt did get him with ice cubes. In time, Reid was cradling an oversized Hershey bar, and then the players and cheerleaders were posing for group shots in the south end zone. Congrats to everyone associated with the program! Being a Burr ain't easy. West practices behind St. Louis Church, in Yeadon, and the "locker room" is a port-a-potty. Though many players opt to get there on a school bus provided by West, others pile into cars and change from their school clothes to practice gear right in the parking lot. Across this entire country, I can't imagine there are too many state champs that are faced with similar circumstances. One last tidbit: Before the game, West assistant Albie Crosby, whom I've known since his days as a spunky, productive West player, asked for a prediction on a final score. I came out with 28-20, West. His prediction was something like 55-12; somewhere in there. Late in the game, Albie came down to field level and reminded me how close his prediction had been. Indeed! I told him he should hit a casino on the way home and try to continue his run of luck. So, much later, when I was walking into the parking lot to fetch the computer (and download/crop the West pics before the La Salle game), a car approached from the left and stopped right in front of me. I couldn't tell at first who it was. This clinched the guy's identity: "Hey, Ted! C'mon, let's go to the casino!" I doubt Albie followed through -- his kids were with him (smile) -- but it's for certain that he and everyone else who's part of the Burr family, direct and extended, took a trip to this place today: Football Paradise.
Some numbers from Huck, covering West's last four seasons:

Record: 50-8
Total Points: 2,244 -- 38.7 per game
Total Yards: 22,571 -- 389.2
Rush Yards: 16,468 -- 283.9
Pass Yards: 6,103 -- 105.2
Total Touchdowns: 323 -- 5.6 per game

WEST'S STARTERS

 

OFFENSE

     

DEFENSE

 
C Dom DiGalbo 64   T Kris Padgett 42
G Mike Makor 52   T Dom DiGalbo 64
G T-J Waters 51   E Jim Lynch 41
T Rodney Linder 75   E Tristin Freeman 49
T Eric Wyant 55   LB Anthony McDonnaugh 18
TE Jim Lynch 41   LB T-J Waters 51
WR Jaelen Strong-Rankin 7   LB Kevin Burns 56
WR Quran Kent 10   CB Blaise Schieler 14
RB Brandon Hollomon 21   CB Brandon Hollomon 21
FB Dion Givens 23   S Kevin Malone 11
QB Anthony Reid 5   S Dave Sherman 9
PK Blaize Schieler 14        
KO Tristin Freeman 49        
P Albert Campbell 25        
H Jaelen Strong-Rankin 7        
LS Dom DiGalbo 64        
Ret Quran Kent 10        
Ret Brandon Hollomon 21

DEC. 11
CLASS AAAA SEMIFINAL
La Salle 38, North Penn 35
  Anyone have a Hershey bar? Moments after this one ended, those wonderful treats certainly were plentiful on the field at Plymouth-Whitemarsh . . . at least at the end where the La Salle Explorers were gathered. State title in 2009. Chance for another in 2010. That opportunity was earned today in VERY hairy (and exciting) fashion before a gi-HUGE-ic crowd. If you saw the score line above (or were at the game), perhaps you're wondering, "How often does a team yield 35 points and still win the game?" Well, we can give you a partial answer regarding La Salle. Our website records go back to 2000 (data for earlier seasons is in the office; I'm writing this at home) and La Salle 12 times in those 11 campaigns has surrendered as many as 35 points. Before today, just once had the Explorers triumphed -- they beat O'Hara, 39-38, in a 2006 playoff -- and often they'd been pounded. In the little preview blurbs that are published in the DN every Friday for important games, I mentioned La Salle had won the teams' season opener and how people like to say it's tough to beat a good team twice. I added, but maybe it's tough to beat a great team once. Well, La Salle didn't always look great today, especially on defense (hey, it's not as if NP is an offensive slouch), but there were certainly big plays at crucial moments and isn't that what it's all about, especially in a shootout? Plus, the Explorers showed great resiliency. They trailed by 7-0 and 14-7 and 21-17 and 28-24 and 35-31, so yes we're talking FIVE rallies from deficits. No wonder everyone was so drained by game's end, and why at least a half-dozen people felt compelled to ask, "Is that the best game you're ever seen?" (Um, not completely, but I understand the question and it was definitely a greatie as opposed to a goodie.) OK, let's head for Nitty-Grittyville. With 4:43 left, NP seized a 35-31 advantage thanks to a 15-play, 87-yard drive that featured a pair of fourth-down conversions (one on a fake punt) and a third-downer right before the TD. The Explorers were not in milquetoast mode. Sr. Kevin Forster returned the kickoff 15 yards to La Salle's 37. Sr. RB Jamal Abdur-Rahman beat a blitz with a 23-yard run right up the middle. Jr. FB Tim Wade went up the middle as well, netting 5 yards. Abdur-Rahman toughed out a first down with a 6-yard gain and jr. QB Matt Magarity went long to Forster. For one of the few times in his life, Forster failed to make the catch (and it would have been a TD). Abdur-Rahman picked up 4 yards. Magarity then threw a quick sideline pass to soph WR Sean Coleman. As Coleman was making the catch at about the 15, a defender was trying to drape him. Didn't work. The NP guy sagged to the turf and no one else was around to even think about making a tackle. See ya in the end zone! Soph Ryan Winslow added his fifth PAT -- he also had a 24-yard field goal -- and the Knights had 2:21 to offer an answer. The effort was terminated 1:07 later, right after a clutch, fourth-down pass play to centerfield had provided a 30-yard gain. As the QB looked and then let go a short-angle pass to his right, sr. DE Joe Naji managed a deflection. The ball kind of helicoptered from there and floated right into the arms (and belly -- smile) of sr. DT Ryan Geiger, who was right nearby. There was just a liiiiitle bit of unabashed joy along La Salle's sidelines, and in the stands. And in homes where grads, perhaps in faraway places, were checking out the stream. One of the big developments today was the play of Magarity. In his previous three games, after returning from a concussion, he'd gone 19-for-34 for 223 yards. Not horrible, but certainly not La Salle QB-like (and there'd been no TD passes, either.) Today he went 10-for-19 for 180 yards and two TDs; the other was a 6-yarder to Wade. Also of note: offensive coordinator Brett Gordon did not use the wildsplorer formation at ALL. That hadn't happened for about two months, he estimated, and he said the reason was that NP had many defenders in the box and, thus, it made more sense to have Magarity back there at all times with the threat of a pass in full effect. Coleman was tremendous, witness his five catches for 114 yards. Also, he made an over-the-shoulder pick of an overthrown pass as the third quarter wound down. Abdur-Rahman finished with 142 yards and three TDs on 21 carries. After a nothing-special (for him) first half, featuring 63 yards on 13 totes, he uncorked runs of 16, 19 and 23 over the final 24 minutes and did some truckin' as well. The first big play by the defense came after Wade's TD catch. On the kickoff, soph Dad Poquie uncorked a big hit and sr. Conor Murphy recovered a fumble at the 23; the kickoff coverage guys were impressive all day. That play led to Winslow's field goal. In the second half, Geiger was a factor long before his interception and Coleman almost had a juggling pick just two plays into the third quarter. Here's how many losses NP suffered in the first half: zero. Obviously, adjustments were made (and maybe manhoods were challenged in the locker room -- smile) and the second half produced five plays resulting in setbacks. Sr. DE Cameron Cappo had a TFL. Geiger had a TFL. Geiger and sr. LB Mark DiFrangia combined for a TFL. Naji had a TFL (for 6 yards). And sr. LB Connor Daly recorded a sack just two plays before Geiger's interception. In the post-game meeting of players and coach Drew Gordon, Abdur-Rahman was spotted jamming a Hershey bar into his mouth with so much ferocity, part of it crumbled out onto the ground. And back in the group, one of the players bellowed, "Best chocolate I ever had!!"

DEC. 10
CLASS AAA SEMIFINAL
Allentown CC 49, Wood 27
  Let’s be clear about something right away: In 40 years of covering high school sports, this ranks as the best performance I’ve seen in any sport. ACC quarterback Brendan Nosovitch accounted for 602 yards and all seven touchdowns. Yes, you that read that correctly – 602 yards. Just a junior, he already boasts two seasons with 2,000 passing AND 1,000 rushing yards and Gatorade recently named him Pennsylvania’s Player of the Year. Through the years I’ve seen a gal and guy score 100 and 86 points, respectively, in basketball games. And a ballcarrier rack up six TDs. And a slugger hit four homers. And no-hitters. All impressive, no doubt. But you know how it usually goes. Outrageous numbers are almost always rung up against inferior opponents. This was a state semifinal, folks. ACC’s opponent boasted a perfect record. I’m still stunned. Sometime around midnight, after submitting my DN story (more on THAT circus later), I was talking with Huck about the game. He’d spoken with several others and had listened to part of havenfootball.net's stream. He asked me whether this game had shown signs of Enjoy the Show, a reference to West Catholic’s wildly prolific offense in '08. My answer: “More like 'Enjoy MY Show.' " Yes, Nosovitch had help in the form of blockers and talented receivers. But out of a shotgun spread offense, with sometimes FOUR receivers to one side and one to the other, which left no one near him, this kid ran or passed on 49 of ACC’s 52 plays. Think about that. Forty-nine plays with DIRECT involvement. He passed 17-for-28 for 419 yards and five scores and ran 21 times for 183 and two more tallies. Just one of those accomplishments would be impressive. By the way, the city record for passing yards in a game is 409 and that came in a 60-3 Thanksgiving blowout (Central over Northeast) back in 1986. ACC’s other three plays were runs for zero and minus-3 and an incomplete pass off a trick play. So, this kid outgained his team, 602-599! After having given this extensive thought, I’ve decided Nosovitch was a cross between Brett Gordon (La Salle ’98) for throwing and Curtis Drake (WC ’09) for running. Is he like that all the time? Who knows? But he was tonight. Almost all of his passes were right THERE, and he displayed touch and velocity. And on his draws and flush-outs, he was quick and elusive and able to shake off multiple tacklers. After one of Nosovitch’s long runs, a Wood assistant muttered, “Three guys HAD him.” Almost. The tip came very early. After Wood failed to produce on its first possession, ACC took over at its 5. Nosovitch immediately turned a draw into a 25-yard gain, even though defensive coordinator Mike Carey was predicting exactly that play at high volume, and then these Vikings (also Wood’s nickname, of course) turned a short slant into a 75-yard score. Uh, oh. A very entertaining first half ended 21-21. Out of the third-quarter chute, Wood had reason for strong hope. After a 48-yard pass and 9-yard run by you-know-who placed the ball at the 3, ACC opted for a handoff to Colin McDermott. Jr.LB Jon Vicari broke through and dumped him for a 3-yard loss. There was great early pressure on the next play and Nosovitch immediately scampered to his left. Sr. LB James Messina was havin’ none of it, and he dumped Nosovitch for a 12-yard loss. Jr. DB Kyle Adkins then broke up a fourth-down pass. Well, at least from the other sideline, it appeared as if Kyle’s back did. He was blanketing the receiver. Two three-and-outs for Wood then sandwiched one for ACC and hey, what do you know, the game was featuring some normalcy. But ACC then churned 75 yards in six plays – big ones: a 29-yard run and 39-yard pass – and those Vikings were up, 28-21. Wood went backward 7 yards on its next possession and ACC unveiled the dagger. First play. A TD pass of 64 yards. Wood’s next two opportunities were thwarted by a lost fumble and interception and, yes, ACC converted both chances. To its everlasting credit, Wood kept trying and wound up finishing strong. The final possession produced a score on the game’s very last play as jr. QB Joey Monaghan hit Adkins for 19 yards. By rule, there was no PAT attempt. Oh, Monaghan ran or passed on 42 plays. The QBs combined for 91 plays! Incredible! He passed 14-for-24 for 138 yards (also an 8-yard TD to jr. TE Colin Thompson) and carried 18 times for 56 yards and one score. Jr. RB Brandon Peoples turned 23 carries into 157 yards and one TD, a 47-yarder. That play was noteworthy. As he went into the line, Brandon was lifted and/or semi-jumped and momentarily appeared to be suspended at shoulder level. Then he was back on the ground and zooming downfield. Congrats to Wood and coach Steve Devlin on a sensational season. There will be another in 2011 due to the fact that so many of this year’s headliners were juniors . . . As for the circus. The field caretaker chased everyone out of the press box at maybe 10:50, saying he’d only be getting paid for work done up until 10 o’clock. Our deadline for the first full edition is 11:15 (roughly, there can be some flexibility) and I was maybe 60 percent through the story. Panic set in. Now what? I hopped in the car and headed maybe a mile back toward the downtown area, figuring something had to be open. A restaurant. Even a bar. Somebody would let me set up shot somewhere. Then I noticed the Bethlehem Hotel. Here we go, baby. Parked the car. Hustled inside. A large Christmas party was taking place in lounge areas that take up the lobby/first floor. Off to the side, under a decent amount of light, was a table with a white cloth on it. Earlier, maybe finger food had been on it? Or holiday plants? Who knows? But it was empty now and that became my work area. Nearby, people were talking at very loud volume, snapping pictures, etc. I finished the story and hit the send button at roughly 11:30. It made the last edition. Not sure about the next-to-last. But I sure know what Brendan Nosovitch did: Made a lasting impression.

DEC. 4
CLASS AAAA QUARTERFINAL
La Salle 19, Easton 7
  Now we've seen everything. Guru I and Guru II of offense, coach Drew Gordon and his son, Brett, the offensive coordinator, actually made a decision I never thought I'd see. Did you catch it? Did you arrive early enough to see it? If so, how long did it take you to faint? (smile) In playoff games like this one, the coin-toss ceremony is held a while before the teams head back into their locker rooms for final instructions, psyching up, praying, etc. Forever and ever, no matter the conditions, the Gordons have opted to accept the opening kickoff, coin result permitting. Well, today at Northeast, the winds were whipping in rather significant fashion and when the Explorers won the toss, they opted to . . . brace yourself . . . defer! As Drew acknowledged much later, he learned an important lesson two years back in the City Title game against Washington. The Explorers opted to receive in that one, the Eagles bottled them big-time, gained early momentum and went on to claim what many considered a stunning victory. In this year's CT, two weeks back, also on a windy day, the Gordons had plans to defer, but the opportunity did not present itself. Today? Well, soph Ryan Winslow hammered a skipping kickoff into the end zone, Easton managed just one first down before having to punt and La Salle roared downfield for a touchdown! Um, one problem. On the 6-yard, wildsplorer keeper by sr. Kevin Forster, holding was detected at the 5 and the ball got pushed back to the 15. Jr. Matt Magarity then passed incomplete on the new third down and Winslow thumped a 32-yard field goal. Did the Explorers ease home from there? Hardly. In fact, they trailed at halftime by 7-3 and at least a hint of concern was detectible along the sideline. That brought about Big Decision No. 2. What would Easton chose to do? Well, the Red Rovers wanted the wind in the fourth quarter, so that meant they kicked into it to start the third. Time to take advantage. Showing a definite change in approach, the Gordons concentrated on trying to stretch the field with hitches/wide screen/bubbles (whatever they're called this week -- ha ha) to sr. RB Jamal Abdur-Rahman. Also, they went with the wildsplorer more often with both Abdur-Rahman and Forster. However, it was an 8-yard burst by jr. FB Tim Wade (following 10- and 18-yard direct-snap gains by A-R) that moved from the ball from the 9 to the 1. Actually, I have no idea how the play wasn't ruled a touchdown. The ball was placed at the half-yard line. Magarity was stopped short on his first surge, and then took it in on No. 2. The momentum then mushroomed big-time as sr. DL Joe Naji notched a 2-yard TFL and followed with a 25-yarder! How? Well, he and others chased the QB around and around and around and the kid finally unloaded to nobody from the 4, resulting in the loss from the 29 to the 4 and then to the 2 because of the half-the-distance infraction. Following a short punt two plays later, La Salle needed to cover just 33 yards to get back on the board. Honestly, I thought a score there would be absolutely crucial. Didn't happen. Easton brassed up and, on fourth and nine from the 19, Magarity's down-the-middle flip to A-R did not have quite enough air underneath it. We move ahead to the fourth. La Salle is still up by just 10-7 and the Red Rovers have the wind/ball. Uh, oh? Yup, for THEM. At La Salle's 46, the QB dropped the ball coming away from center and sr. DL Ryan "Scarface" Geiger (he got bloodied pretty good earlier) made the giGANtic recovery with 7:24 left. Fifty-four yards would have to be covered. Abdur-Rahman -- yes, him again -- provided 40 on a screen pass to the left, getting all the way to the 11. Magarity looked for Forster in the left corner of the end zone and for a moment a TD appeared to be forthcoming. But Easton's d-back made a great, last-second knockaway. A personal foul for a late hit was called and the ball crept forward to the 4 1/2, but the down marker did not switch to 1. Reason: personal fouls on dead balls do not mean automatic first downs. Wade was then dropped for a 5-yard loss and Winslow strong-legged a 26-yard field goal through the wind. Important, but hardly a clincher. The FG meant only that La Salle would have a chance to force OT by blocking the PAT in the event of an Easton six-pointer. Did someone say six-pointer? Coming right up, baby!! For La Salle!! First down: Forster broke up a pass. Second down: sr. DL Cameron Cappo recorded an 8-yard sack with a barely-got-the-ankle tripup. The line of the scrimmage was now Easton's 26. The play was a left-side swing pass. The ball came right to Abdur-Rahman at the 37, not far from Easton's sideline, and . . . down . . . the . . . sideline . . . he . . . STEAMED!! Ballgame!! Soon, La Salle's students were chanting, "Just like last year!! Just like last year!!" Remember how La Salle won last year's quarterfinal, over the same foe, in a snowstorm in Bethlehem? (Easton did surge downfield to the 16, but a bad snap resulted in an 8-yard loss and there'd be no drama.) What a weekend for the Catholic League, eh? Wood (AAA), West Catholic (AA) and La Salle, the defending state champ, are headed to semifinals, just as all did last year. And in the CL's three years of PIAA membership, that makes eight visits to semis out of nine chances. Abdur-Rahman provided 165 yards of rushing (17-108) and receiving (3-57) and the INT score, he said, was the first of his life. Also on defense, sr. LB Connor Daly made 12 stops with seven being solos. Jr. LB Sean Burke (nine, five) and Naji (eight, four) were next in line. A-R had four stops along with what likely were the day's two best teeth-rattlers. (Thanks for all the defensive stats, Huck.) There was an interesting verbal exchange after Winslow's first FG (which, as mentioned, followed the rubbed-out-by-a-hold TD. The umpire, who'd made the call, wound up along La Salle's sideline as Winslow prepared to kick off. A La Salle assistant, who shall remain nameless (smile), asked the guy about the holding call. The guy demonstrated by indicating the La Salle lineman had held the defender in the shoulder area. "I hope so!" the assistant shot back. As in, if we don't see that on the tape, we'll be mighty hissed. The umpire responded, "You do yours (as in job). I'll do mine." During halftime, it was great to see a lot of old friends while walking behind the top of La Salle's home-side stands. You know who you are. So do I. Well, mostly. For a couple guys, I had to settle for face recognition. It ain't easy being kinda old. OK, more than kinda . . . Meanwhile, this report is being written Saturday night in an unused, cold, but well-lit card room at the Trump Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City. The Wife and Mother-in-Law are in the nearby arena watching a Celtic Thunder performance. I offered to drive them down here. As payment, The Wife will cook dinner at least once in the next month. Or is it two months? I can hear the music very well. I expected Irish music. It's not. In fact, right now the band is playing the Beach Boys' Surf City. And the song before this was something by Elvis. What's the deal?   

DEC. 3
CLASS AA QUARTERFINAL
West Catholic 55, Northern Lehigh 14

  Since the Burrs often prove that long fields are no problem, giving them a short one is not advised. But that was what happened on the first very scrimmage play, as jr. DL Dom DiGalbo recovered a fumble at NL's 32, and five plays later the score was 7-0 thanks to a 15-yard, right-side keeper from sr. QB Anthony Reid. It was onnnnnnnnly the beginning, folks. Few would have predicted an eight-TD night for the Burrs. Oh, wait. Someone did. Kinda. Shortly before the game began, the legendary Edward "Huck/Not Even Close to Puck" Palmer asked me for a prediction. For whatever reason, I shot back, "We're looking at the mercy rule with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter." So what happened? With 9:25 left in that very same stanza, sr. WR-SB Quran Kent zoomed for a 50-yard TD on a reverse and West was up, 48-14. Out came jr. K Blaze Schieler. One more point would equal mercy time. The kick is up. It hits the right upright. Then it falls downward and hits the crossbar. Then it hits the ground on the wrong side and prevents me from almost looking like a genius (except for 1 minute, 25 seconds). Yo, Blaze. What's the deal? Help a guy out, will ya? (smile) Overall, this game looked like 2008 all over again. The Burrs mostly frolicked up and down the field. Well, not right away. After the first TD, the next two possessions produced a three-and-out and a lost fumble by sr. FB Leroy Wesley. Then it was TD, TD, TD, kneeldown to end the first half, TD, one-play possession ended when sr. WR Jaelen Strong-Rankin threw a pick on a trick play, TD, TD and, oh, what a surprise, one last TD. The defunct North Catholic proved to be pretty nice to the Burrs. Reid had eight carries for 79 yards and three TDs and soph David Williams, who shares TB duties with sr. Brandon Hollomon (and even jr. Joshua Mathis), totaled 126 yards and one score on 14 lugs. Two of Williams' first four carries went for 25 and 29 yards, but some of his smaller gains were the most impressive. Why? Because he turned four yards into six. Five into seven. Five into eight. He showed the highly desirable tendency of being able to still drive forward while going down and at least slightly win that last battle with the group of tacklers bringing him down. Williams is already 5-11, 180 (looks taller, actually) and what a wonderful next two seasons he will experience. The highlight for Hollomon (12-146) was a 50-yard TD scamper down the right sideline and, folks, it was noteworthy. It raised his yardage total for the night to 95 and lifted the Hollomon brothers above 7,000 career yards for rushing and receiving. His 11-yarder right before the TD burst had lifted the family rushing total to 6,001. (Rob, who posted the outrageous total of 36 rushing TDs in '08, managed 3,159 rushing yards in his career. Brandon still needs 217 to eclipse Big Bro; current total 2,943.) Despite the points avalanche, DN ink went to a defensive player. Reason? Well, NL had enjoyed a scorefest all season, but the brakes were almost totally applied tonight. Sr. LB Kevin Burns, the pride of Collingdale, racked up 13 tackles. Eight were solos and two went for losses. NL uses a lot of misdirection with counters/reverses and Burns performed major sniff-outs. He was always in the right spot while exhibiting solid tackling skills. In the story we had some fun with the fact that Kevin has now received four game balls this season, yet can't remember the foes even though he has begun to label the balls. And he hasn't even suffered concussions (smile). By the way, he boasts a 4.0 GPA and ranks 15th in his class. Niiiiiiice. What was likely West's best defensive sequence occurred early in the second quarter. Sr. DB Dave Sherman (also a Norphan) came up hard on a pass play and severely rocked the receiver, limiting him to a 2-yard gain. NL then tried a reverse and jr. DL Devante "Butterball" Ford exploded forward to notch a 3-yard TFL. Next was a pass and sr. LB Kris Padgett batted it down a shade beyond the line of scrimmage. Sherman finished with six stops. Four apiece went to Padgett, Ford, sr. LB Anthony McDonnaugh and DiGalbo. (Thanks, Huck.) Hollomon had an interception (coulda had two others) and Burns made a heads-up recovery after a punt bounced off the back of Schieler's  helmet. Perhaps the most amazing development: West had no motions, no holds, no late hits, no interferences, no NOTHINGS. In the first half there was a sideline warning when a couple of the coaches irked the officiating crew for hindering the efforts of the chain-gang crew (ugh). And at the very end, Padgett's kickoff spun over the sideline and that could have resulted in a procedure penalty. Instead, NL opted to take possession where the ball went out, at the 37. I wrote the DN story in a diner down the street from J. Birney Crum Stadium. Thankfully, the manager/cashier set me up in a back room not being used. The lights were off back there, but I got some help from the laptop screen, of course, and from a large fish tank that was right near the table where I wound up working, and at least cast a little bit of light. On the way out I bought a large oatmeal raisin cookie (tasted pretty good, though I thought it was gonna be chocolate chip -- ha ha) and diet soda and gave the guy $15 and told him to keep the change. Least I could do, right?

NOV. 25
THANKSGIVING RIVALRY
Frankford 49, Fels 22
  Way before the game started, someone pointed out a youngster in the Frankford stands wearing a red sweatshirt featuring “We Are NC.” The kid was not joined by hundreds of North Catholic supporters. Not even by tens. Maybe not even by one. Not sure whether the ol’ NC folks attended Thanksgiving football somewhere, but it definitely wasn’t here. I did see NC’s last coach, Chalie Szydlik, and his son, C.J., whose roles are now reversed at Jenkintown (dad assists son), but they’re Frankford grads. Not sure whether C.J. remained, but Chalie said at halftime that he was about to leave because the various ins and outs were hitting him like a ton of bricks. I feel ya, Chal. Some of my very best days in sports writing were spent watching, then writing, about North-Frankford games and it was obvious way beforehand that this game could not hope to come close from the stir-the-emotions standpoint. Still, it was shocking to arrive maybe 45 minutes beforehand and count just 18 people in the stands. Yes, the weather report was shaky, but 18 people!? As mentioned at the start of my DN story, there were 69 at kickoff with Frankford holding a 43-26 lead. The eventual number totaled about 300, with roughly a 225-75 breakdown. Oh, well. The most compelling story line going in was, Would Fels sr. Tyree “Bam” Rucker break the Pub record for passing yards in a season? He needed 78 to top the 1,875 rung up in 1969 by Frankford’s Warren Mays, who’s now a minister. Literally moments before kickoff, it began to sleet and the mind couldn’t help pacing. What if the field quickly becomes a mess? “Bam” is not exactly a giant. He must have small hands. What if he has trouble holding onto the ball? He did his thing, however. There was a 17-yarder to jr. WR Nijay Kelly on the third play and a 20-yarder three plays later to sr. WR-SB Jared Hines, moving the ball to the 10. Rucker scored from the 2 on second down and, OK, this could be interesting. Frankford tallied twice before the quarter ended, with a fumble recovery by sr. DL Daquan Franks in between. As the second period opened . . . hey, it’s snowing! Not in blitz fashion. The flakes were gigantic and there weren’t that many and they were  taking forever to reach the ground. Play No. 3. Twenty-five yard pass to Hines. Sixty-two yards total for Rucker. Oh, baby, we’re on the doorstep! Oops, hold that enthusiasm. On the next play, Rucker threw a backward pass to nobody – not sure what happened; maybe the ball just slipped out of his hand as he was avoiding pressure? – and sr. DB Marc Price recovered for Frankford. Another TD for the Pioneers. With the score now 21-6, Fels again took over at its 33. One yard for sr. RB Terry “Dark” Brown. Then it happened. Rucker took the shotgun snap, like always, dropped back just a little, wound up, launched one pretty much straight downfield to Hines, who’d lined up at slotback, and . . . . Bam! Time to make history! Hines raced to the end zone for the 66-yard score and the record was Rucker’s. Great accomplishment! During the first half I had occasional talks with the guy who was holding the down marker, Mike Hagen, a star Frankford RB in the early '70s. He said he’s friendly with Mays and talks with him occasionally, and he said he figured Minister Mays was spending the day at a soup kitchen, helping the less fortunate. Also very nice. OK, so much for the drama. It was evident Fels would not be able to truly make a game of this (defense is not its strength – smile) and Frankford wound up frolicking. DN ink went to sr. QB Michael McGroarty, a good soldier throughout his career. McGroarty threw for one TD (to impressive jr. TE Aaron Allison) and burrowed for TD, but the start of the DN story focused on how he dashed (OK, rumbled) for a 67-yard TD on a fourth-quarter option. Well, almost a TD. There was a hold at Fels’ 15. There was also a dive/tumble/cartwheel (whatever it was – smile) by Mac as he crossed the goal line and the refs immediately flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct. He didn’t know the TD had been erased by the hold until he reached the sideline. Though he wasn’t truly mad at him, coach Mike Capriotti welcomed McGroarty to watch the rest of the game from the bench. There’d be a late negative moment: ordered to hand off, jr. backup QB Mike Brown instead whipped a 36-yard TD to jr. backup TE Marquan Scott (ugh) to give Frankford a 49-14 lead. Rucker did not come back onto the field for Fels’ final possession. Kind of a shame because he needed just six yards to reach 2,000 for the season. He’d been roughed up several times, though, and was experiencing breathing problems. Fels did get to experience late-game joy as Brown charged 29 yards for a score. Rucker finished the season 86-for-183 for 1,994 yards (just under 11 yards per attempt) and 25 TDs. He also had great feet, witness that he produced 670 yards and 13 scores on 115 carries. Amazing numbers, kid. Be very proud. Oh, and make sure to thank your teammates again and again (he did that in our interview). This was likely Capriotti’s last game. He said his energy level has slipped (season-long behavior issues no doubt didn’t help; he had to cut ties with 14 players over the last few weeks) and he’d be confident in turning over the program to his assistants. Cap’s a gem and I hope he finds a way to stay around as an assistant/mentor, as he indicated he probably would. His whole family is into Frankford football and it would be shocking to just see him disappear. Going forward, holiday-wise, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. I’m not sure Frankford-Fels is a long-range answer. Maybe the Roman people will come to their senses and ditch an opponent, Roxborough, that has provided almost no competition for two decades. Many kids from North’s old feeders will be found at Roman as time goes on, so that would help the interest level. One problem: Frankford’s program has changed so much in recent seasons, many of the older grads find it hard to still identify. We’ll see how this all plays out . . .         

NOV. 24
THANKSGIVING EVE RIVALRY
Gratz 26, FitzSimons 20
  When the first quarter ended 0-0, few would have predicted a goodie. And that's if everyone had made the prediction. Reason? Few were in attendance. I counted 27 spectators in the early portion of this contest and even later, there could not have been more than 75-80. Yes, it was somewhat cold, but . . . Not even Gratz' cheerleaders were in attendance. What's with that? Anyway, there were numerous good moments and the last one was something FitzSimons sr. TE Nature "Nate" Boyer will remember for the rest of his life. On the very last play of his career, Boyer streaked down the middle to await a pass from sr. QB Richard Williams. Boyer, the ball and Gratz jr. DB Khalil Scott all converged at the goal line and, for a moment, Boyer and Scott had simultaneous possession. Boyer then wrested away the pigskin and, bingo, he had a 46-yard TD. Very cool! No conversion followed, as it would not have made a difference. It was Boyer's second TD catch of the quarter and his third of the game; all of his catches produced scores (along with 76 yards). His second occurred with 9:10 remaining and advanced the Rams within 20-14. Daone Mitchell then kicked off and the ball skidded toward the sideline. (NOT intentionally, it appeared). Joseph Moses recovered and Fitz was in business at Gratz' 45. The series went nowhere, however, in part because Williams had to briefly depart to have bleeding issues fixed, and Gratz then embarked on a clinching drive that 58 yards in 10 plays. Most of the work was done by sr. RB Spencer Moses, who scored from the 6. It was his second TD and he finished with 138 yards on nine carries, though he did not appear until midway through the third quarter. (He arrived late and had to resolve a helmet issue). This kid is fast and spunky. He's always on the balls of his feet and shows the ever-desirable early burst. He ripped off runs of 42 and 47 yards (TD). Jamir "Andy" Anderson, a 5-5 sr. RB, also had some good moments (11-119, 42-yard TD). Sr. Khalil Brown, mostly a QB (but definitely an overall talent) during these past two seasons, began the game at TB but was limited to just one carry before departing with an injury. Though he was beaten on that last play, Scott did post an interception. Nate Gore, who has good size, impressed at LB. For Fitz, Williams was his usual franchise self and the linemen, for the most part, gave him decent protection. He passed 10-for-22 for 163 yards while also receiving help from WRs Jack Burris (4-43) and Steven Pruitt (2-37) in addition to Boyer. Joseph Gainer did some poppin' at LB and James Clanton had an interception. The Rams had 18 players in uniform and I'm guessing just 13-14 did all of the playing. After Moses' second TD, fill-in coach Jason Watson decided to give a conversion carry to sr. lineman Qualef Edwards, who goes 320 pounds. (Another sr. lineman, Jamil Morgan, who goes 345, has posted a TD and conversions these past two years. He's battling a knee problem, and was limited to his usual duties.) Anyway, as Edwards stepped forward, the ball fell right to the turf. I asked him later what had happened. "The quarterback threw the ball at my chest," he said, smiling. "I told him, 'I'm not a running back. You gotta give it right TO me.' " At one point in the fourth quarter, a Gratz d-back, not too far from Fitz' sideline, began chirping that a Fitz player was afraid to catch the ball. Assistant Lou Williams, who basically calls all offensive/defensive shots, "He ain't afraid of you! You need pom-poms attached to your shoes!" Ha, ha, ha. Long before the game, Gratz sr. WR Daryll Johnson, from the goal line, and NOT from a running start, fired the ball 59 yards downfield. Against a crosswind. Phew!

NOV. 20
AAA CITY TITLE
Wood 44, Dobbins 7
  In three years of PIAA membership, Wood has made the same number of appearances in City Title frays. You could say the Vikings have been just a liiiiittle dominant, seeing as how the total score in those contests stands at 142-20. This is Dobbins' second rough experience, as the score in 2008 was 56-7; Gratz fell by "only" 42-6 last year. With a foot injury, star jr. TB Desmon Peoples was unavailable for this one. So how did Peoples score three TDs? It was his first cousin, folks, the guy who's normally the fullback -- jr. Brandon Peoples. He notched 123 yards and three TDs on 14 carries, though he also lost two fumbles and wasn't too happy with himself over that. Soph Andrew Guckin, getting his first scrimmage touches, tallied the first two TDs on a 3-yard run and 3-yard pass from jr. QB Joey Monaghan. They made the score 16-0 when soph Nick Visco added the kicks. The first two points? They'd come 4:06 into the game when jr. Mike Frendak blocked a punt through the back of the end zone. Some Frendak he was to Dobbins! (smile) Wood's first TD was immediately preceded by a 42-yard bomb from Monaghan to sr. WR Sam McCain, back from a concussion and an overall contributor of 108 yards on five catches. Peoples uncorked runs of 10 and 11 yards on the second drive. Just when Dobbins didn't need any more early grief, soph Anthony Roakes provided it by returning a punt 61 yards for a score. Coincidentally, he received late, downfield blocks from Frendak and McCain. Two more scores were added in the early portion of the second quarter, a 9-yard run by Peoples and a 31-yarder by the same guy. A fumble recovery by jr. LB Jon Vicari (hit by jr. OLB Kyle Adkins) set up the second one. In a nice gesture, the Vikings inserted their second-team defense and, hey, here we go, Dobbins began to show life. The score came on a 27-yard run by sr. FB Aaron Walker, but the drive's best play, a medium pass from sr. QB Kevin Butler to sr. WR Jamil Williams that he took WAY downfield thanks to some great moves and bursts, was all but wiped out by a holding call. On the kickoff, No. 80 posted a strong individual effort, making an open-field tackle and then flopping on the ensuring fumble. Guess what hustled back onto the field? You got it. Wood's starting defense. There'd be no more scoring through the rest of the quarter. The running-clock rule kicked into effect just 3:05 into the third stanza after a three-play, 49-yard drive. Guckin started it with a 34-yard sashay and Peoples concluded it from the 13. The Vikings' first O was finished for the night. Wood's second D stood tall in the waning moments after Dobbins, also mostly with backup players, moved to the 18. Sr. LB Dorce Bradley recorded a 6-yard TFL on first down and sr. LB Mike McGrath hustled for two more stops behind the line on third and fourth downs. Just like Dobbins' best play -- the catch and run by Williams -- was erased (except for two yards), so was what likely was Wood's best play. Right before Peoples' 31-yarder, Monagan dropped back to pass. He was almost sacked, but escaped and took off to his strong (left) side. He used good vision/instincts to get downfield and even showed some fancy footwork. All of a sudden, there he was in the end zone! Alas, there'd been a hold four yards behind the line.

NOV. 20
AAAA CITY TITLE
La Salle 35, Northeast 0
  When a team scores five TDs, it's only natural to think, "The offense must have had things rollin' pretty well." This time that thought would be wrong. La Salle's offense wasn't subpar. Hardly. But it wasn't as if the guys were severely pushed or rang up eye-popping numbers. Reason? Only 39 yards, total, were covered on four of the scoring drives and those payturf thrusts required just six plays! Credit the defense, baby. The scores we're talking about were 1, 2, 4 and 5. One was sr. Kevin Forster's 11-yard run out of a "wildsplorer" set right after a 33-yard punt return by sr. Jamal Abdur-Rahman, which followed a three-and-out. Two was a 13-yard run by jr. FB Tim Wade right after sr. Connor Reilly blocked a punt. Four was Forster's 3-yard run, again out of a wildsplorer, on play No. 2 after Forster followed more strong defense with a 29-yard punt return. And five was Abdur-Rahman's 7-yard run two plays after jr. LB Sean Burke made a nice tackle on a fourth-down, we've-got-nothing-to-lose trick play at Northeast's 8 (sr. protector Rashaun "Military" Sligh tossed to jr. Michael Samarco for a 1-yard loss). La Salle's only true drive started early in the second quarter and wound up covering 80 yards in 11 plays. Abdur-Rahman, ALSO out of the wildsplorer, navigated 2 yards into the end zone. This one should not have been scored, folks. Two plays earlier jr. Colin Buckley was guilty of a fumble after catching a pass from jr. QB Matt Magarity and Northeast jr. LB Michael Brown recovered on the 10. Unfortunately, none of the nearby refs saw the coughup and La Salle maintained possession. (Along the sideline, a few folks with cell phones called friends and everyone was confirming that 6ABC's replays showed a no-doubt fumble.) This one went pretty much as expected. Northeast has played great defense all season, but offense has been an issue, especially against tough opponents due to youth and injuries. With that in mind -- and this isn't a second guess; I said it right away -- I was surprised Northeast didn't opt to kick off with the wind after winning the toss. Instead, the Vikings received, going into the wind, and the not-much-will-happen offensive tone was set. The running game finished with zero yards and just two first downs were notched until the final drive, vs. subs, almost got NE off the schneid. Soph backup QB Marc Prompt completed four passes total for 40 yards and advanced the ball to the 18. The best shot at a score came on first down and Prompt tried to hit sr. TE-WR Deion Barnes on a right-corner fade. Jr. DB Ryan Otis made a great, last-second breakup. On fourth down, with the ball at the 23, Prompt fell to the turf for a 10-yard loss under heavy pressure. Abdur-Rahman ran 11 times for 69 yards and two scores. Forster (11-53) also tallied twice and some of his runs came on speed sweeps in addition to wildsplorers; his first score, the 11-yarder, featured an impressive left-corner dash capped by a dive for the pylon. Yo, guys, do the cool stuff to MY side of the field so I can get a decent picture! (smile). In that vein, thanks to A-R for making his interception just a few yards away along the home sideline. Sr. DE Joe Naji recorded two sacks for La Salle along with another stop at the line. Sr. OLB Mark DiFrangia hustled for eight total stops, with five coming at or behind the line. For Northeast, Barnes began his defensive stint with two very impressive plays, a sack of Magarity (after he dropped a snap) and a tackle on a screen to the opposite side. He added six more tackles. As the first half wound down, already holding a 21-0 lead, La Salle coach Drew Gordon, via son/offensive coordinator Brett Gordon, took a casual approach. The Explorers did not show much urgency and even declined to run a last play, instead letting the clock run out. The Explorers were in command and I'm guessing Gordon figured there was no need to go nuts in those waning moments. Website contributors Mike Ferris (field level) and Joe Turkos (upstairs) helped keep stats for the TV folks. Here's hoping they were paid handsomely.

NOV. 18
NON-LEAGUE
Fels 56, Franklin 46
(Resumption of Game Halted by Darkness on 11/12 With 3:21 Left; at 48-46)
  This one ended with what almost became the all-time development. After 102 points had been scored and almost no defense had been played (smile), Fels sr. LB John Counts intercepted a pass on his team’s 1, on the game’s FINAL play, and came oh-so-close to rumbling 99 yards for a TD! Those six points would have lifted the total to 108, of course, and enabled this game to become the highest-scoring in city history, surpassing 103 by West Catholic-Neumann in a 2002 Catholic League playoff (West won, 55-48). The primary tackler on Counts’ return was sr. QB Anwar “Huddy” Mathis (with late help from soph RB Crusito Cruz) and Mathis, who doesn’t play defense, said the stop was just his SECOND of the season. The other had come, he said, in Week Three vs. Dobbins star Terrance Stafford. (Those teams will meet again on Thanksgiving.) I was looking forward to this one with so much nervous anticipation. The clocked dragged big-time today and I wound up arriving so early, no one else was even in 29th Street Stadium. It’s hard to be sure on something like this, but it might have been the first football game in city history to be continued after a stoppage (six days earlier due to darkness). Thanks to Pub sports czar Robert Coleman for agreeing with my assertion that the kids deserved a chance to finish this one. If the score had been outrageously one-sided, OK, no sweat, let it ride. But there was only a two-point difference and all kinds of records were available for smashing/tying. Fels sr. QB Tyree “Bam” Rucker had already thrown for 324 yards and six TDs, most in Pub history. After Fels got the kickoff (the first go-‘round had ended with a TD run by Mathis and unsuccessful conversion run by sr. handyman Willie Battle), would coach Bill Harrigan allow Rucker to fire away? Noooooo. How dare this guy! He wanted to win more than go for records??!! (smile) All things considered, Harrigan’s approach made lots of sense. He stuck with runs and milked the clock, knowing Franklin entered today’s portion of the proceedings with only one timeout remaining. Counts, a sr. FB, ran for eight yards on his first carry in the game. Sr. Terry “Dark” Brown (tackle by jr. DL Demetrius Town) and Rucker (tackle by sr. DL Richard Underwood) were held to one and no yards, respectively, and Franklin coach Desmin Daniels used his last timeout at 1:35. Would Fels punt? Nooooo. The call was a dive right for Brown. And he wound up rumbling 61 yards for a TD! Howevvvvver, there was a holding call at roughly the 20. Didn’t matter. Knowing his team’s only hope was to get the ball back, Daniels declined the penalty and hoped like crazy his squad could D it up on the conversion, keeping the deficit at eight points and leaving the door open for a tie and then OT. Brown also got the call on the two-pointer, on a run to the left. One guy, and then two guys, had decent, even great, opportunities to stop him, but that didn’t happen and he frolicked into the corner of the end zone (at the 29th Street end). Cruz’s 21-yard kickoff return put the ball on Franklin’s 41. All nine plays were passes. Three produced completions. The first two to jr. WR Jonathan Parker for 15 yards and other to WR Michael Edwards (must be new; not sure what grade he’s in) for 14. That placed the ball on the 15. The sequence thereafter: incomplete, incomplete, offsides on Fels, holding on Fels, delay on Franklin, incomplete to the right corner (Parker did make a great catch in the right corner, but was beyond the sideline), and Counts’ interception. With 99 today, the teams finished with 962 yards from scrimmage! Fels won that battle, 576-386. Fels jr. WR Nijah Kelly (4-143) and Parker (6-135) caught three TDs apiece; the city record in that category is four. Rucker accounted for 428 yards of passing/rushing and seven TDs, counting a 3-yard run. Mathis passed for four and ran for two. I can’t imagine there has ever been a city game where the QBs combined to account for 13 scores (there were 15). Those not involving the QBs in some fashion were sr. Evander Barkley’s early 68-yard kickoff return for Franklin and Brown’s run today for Fels. Amazing. Earlier today, with fun in mind, I decided to take two Player of the Week T-shirts to the game and give them to the first guy on each team to make a tackle. Franklin’s went to sr. KO man Charlie Mills while Fels’ went to Kelly. Fels sr. LB Misael Perez indeed made a decent pop on that play (18-yard completion to Parker; Cruz had merely stepped out on his kickoff return), but Parker wound up a few yards away and it was Kelly who put him down (over Perez’ mild protests – ha ha). So now, we know for sure that each of the three major sports has experienced a resumption. Instances that immediately come to mind: The 2004 Catholic League baseball final was played over two days due to rain and last winter, in Pub basketball, Frankford and Northeast began playing Feb. 4 at Frankford and finished playing Feb. 18 at Northeast; there’d been a broken rim at halftime at Frankford. Each team also played another opponent before the resumption. The Pioneers rolled past University City, 70-54, at Frankford and then, after changing their jerseys from white to red, they piled into relatives' vehicles and hightailed it to Northeast, where the Vikings were waiting after falling to Southern, 77-51. Gotta love that, right? And you REALLY gotta love this. When today’s game concluded, Fels and Franklin had a scrimmage! Franklin simulated Frankford for Fels and Fels pretended to be Dobbins for Franklin. Those teams will meet on Thanksgiving. At the east end of the field, going through a no-pads practice in anticipation of Saturday’s AAA City Title, was none other than . . . Dobbins! The Mustangs watched the conclusion beforehand. What a fun afternoon!

NOV. 13
CATHOLIC AAA FINAL
Wood 24, O'Hara 7
  OK, so history doesn't always repeat itself. At least not in rapid fashion. Just two weeks ago O'Hara's new turf field looked like a pinball machine as the teams piled up 82 points (Wood 48, O'Hara 34). The defenses were much, much better this time around. Especially Wood's. Thanks to a dominant front four of jr. E Colin Thompson, sr. E Brian Butler and sr. T Rory Clark and jr. T Frank Taylor, the Vikings turned O'Hara's running game into a rumor. The Lions totaled 20 rushing plays, counting sacks, and the yardage yield was minus-12 yards. Only one play, an 11-yard rumble by sr. FB Brendan McLaughlin, produced double-digit yardage and 11 went backward (as did two pass plays). When he had even a hint of time, sr. QB Ryan Laughlin did slap together a respectable performance while going 9-for-17 for 160 yards. His best effort was a perfectly placed sideline-streak to sr. WR Drew Formica, who mostly concentrates on LB duties. The play went for a 65-yard TD with 7:18 left in the third quarter and created at least a hint of suspense as the score became 17-7. One problem: The Lions did nothing in their final three possessions while settling for minus-1 yard. As those with even a hint of CL history realize, Wood has become quite the powerhouse. Coach Steve Devlin, beforehand an assistant under Gil Brooks at SJ Prep, has steered his squad to three consecutive AAA crowns (this is his fourth) and the program itself has captured six in eight years going back to the league's color days (Wood was in Blue; in effect a mixture of AAA and AA schools). These guys appear to have it all from uncommon size, a multi-pronged offense and aggressive, savvy defenders. But the question now will become, what's the deal with Desmon Peoples? The jr. tailback injured his left foot on a run with 2:49 remaining. While sitting on a trainer's table, Peoples grimaced again and again as the medical folks touched various areas of the foot. Soon thereafter, as the Vikings celebrated and then met at midfield, Desmon needed crutches to make it out there. His first cousin, jr. FB Brandon Peoples, is fast enough to switch to TB, if need be, but he doesn't quite possess Desmon's top-shelf quickness (who does?) and it's hard to imagine a new duo, whoever else it would include, could possibly match this one. Then again, the blocking is so good . . . Desmon went for 173 yards and all three TDs on 29 carries. His scores covered 22, 47 and two yards and he posted three other carries of 10-plus yards (16, 14 and 12). Brandon's totals were 13-39. Jr. QB Joey Monaghan wasn't needed too much and he mostly went short. He did make a tremendous throwback toss to Thompson that at first was a 13-yard TD to Thompson. Alas, the refs said Thompson had been "covered" by one of the wideouts and thus had not been allowed to go downfield. The ball moved back to the 18 and soph Nick Visco hammered a 35-yard field goal to make it 17-0. Thompson and Butler halved four sacks while Taylor had one. Thompson, Taylor, soph DB Andrew Guckin (also a fumble recovery) and sr. LB James Messina (also a stolen-ball trick) had one TFL apiece while Clark and jr. DB Kyle Adkins managed two apiece. Adkins hustled for his on back-to-back plays and that sequence was quite impressive. Adkins came up hard to drop jr. handyman Jay Watkins for a 1-yard loss on a sweep right. Watkins then tried a reverse and this loss was a 5-yarder. One little thing I loved seeing: fair catches. The instant punts head upward, some coaches tell their plays to get away, figuring that only bad things can happen. Devlin's approach is the complete opposite -- hey, we trust you, so get your butt up there in all the traffic -- if there is some and a clean return isn't possible -- and make the dang catch to save us the yardage. The Peoples cousins combined for three of those (2-1 edge for Brandon) and the punts went for 25, 26 and 34 instead of distances that could have been much higher. For O'Hara, sr. DL Jeff Smyth, sr. LB Shawn Driggins and sr. DL John Barnes enjoyed some strong moments.

NOV. 12
CATHOLIC AAAA FINAL
La Salle 35, Roman 16
  There are better ways to start the pursuit of a third consecutive championship (plus a fourth in five years). There aren't many better ways to end it. Except for kneeldowns, La Salle's final possession featured a REALLY-clinched-it, 29-yard TD burst by sr. RB-DB Jamal Abdur-Rahman (Villanova), and that number finalized his stats at 168 yards and three scores on 28 carries. Oh, he also had an interception. But if we quickly rewind to the start -- actually, to even before the start -- we'll see why there had to be concern in Explorerville. No. 1, soph kicker-punter Ryan Winslow was unavailable due to pneumonia and jr. Casey Eidenshink, the backup all season (with five PATs, all in one game), said he learned he'd be doing the placekicking only yesterday. Imagine if he'd been forced to attempt a game-winning field goal. Also an issue was what would happen at QB. Jr. Matt Magarity had missed three straight games due to the after-effects of a concussion. Though Magarity had been cleared last week for the semi vs. Judge, coach Drew Gordon had decided to continue going with sr. WR-DB Kevin Forster due to his perception that Magarity's reaction time and focus were still slightly off in that week's practices. It can't be easy to be asked to lead your team to a championship when you haven't played in roughly a month. Magarity's first offensive moment went great, but not the Explorers'. Here's what happened: Roman went three-and-out and sr. Kyle Haber punted. Jr. WR Sean Coleman tried for a fair catch, but dropped the ball and had to scramble backward to recover it at La Salle's 5. The first play was run to the right by jr. FB Tim Wade. Safety! Yes, jr. OLB Anthony Johnson came up very hard and dropped Wade in the end zone! And there was no doubt. It wasn't one of those iffy plays you often see where safeties/non-safeties are involved. Would this be the start of a dark night for the Explorers? Well, the defense immediately stepped up. Sr. DT Ryan Geiger and sr. DE Cameron Cappo made behind-the-line tackles on the Roman possession that followed Forster's free-kick punt and La Salle took over at its 39. The Gordons (son Brett is the offensive coordinator) went with a home run ball. Magarity launched it long to Coleman and the result was a 60-yarder. Yes, you're doing the arithmetic. That means Coleman was tackled on the 1 (by jr. DB Darryl "Breath" Mintz). Abdur-Rahman was stopped on first down, then Magarity burrowed in for the score. Clear sailing from there? Not even close. But at least Magarity, the subject of DN ink, could proceed with confidence, knowing that his coaches had asked him to make a brassy early throw and he'd nailed it. Roman scored the next two TDs on a 14-yard run by jr. RB Marcus Kelly and a 12-yard fumble return by sr. DE Jack Gallagher, who dislodged the ball from Magarity and did the pick-it-up-and-rumble thing. (Well, not really a rumble. He's pretty athletic.) The other DE, jr. Jack Schanz, appeared to be involved in the stop. One BIG problem for Roman during this time frame: soph WR William Fuller fractured his left collarbone after making three snags for 61 yards. Sr. LB Conor Murphy pounded Fuller into the turf on catch No. 2 and William left the game in obvious pain. He did return -- even made a 46-yard snag -- and a while after finally departing, with his top left area being iced on the sideline, he said he suffered the injury while hitting the turf on a play where he'd been blocking. This young man has had a sensational year (32-692-9) and we wish him the best. As it turned out, the second half tone was set right away. La Salle would no longer fart around (excuse my French.) The Explorers rolled 65 yards in four plays -- 15 and 20 for A-R, 21 for Magarity and the final nine for A-R. Soph Dad Poquie recovered the ball on the ensuing kickoff (it caromed hard off Roman's return man and went a good 10-12 yards upfield) and the chance for another quick score was there. Alas, Magarity put too much air under a sideline fade and sr. DB Dennis Regan intercepted. Roman couldn't mount an answer on its possession. Cappo stopped Kelly for a yard. Sr. DB Mark DiFrangia held Regan to no gain on a pass from soph Michael Keir. Then Keir threw incomplete. Three-and-out for La Salle. Two-yard TFL for Cappo. Interception by A-R. Twenty-four TD "run" by Coleman. Quote marks are used because the play actually began with a pass, but since it was was backward the play gets credited as a rush. The highlights thereafter included a pair of picks by Forster and A-R's aforementioned final TD run. Magarity finished 7-for-13 for 95 yards. His grunts were Geiger at C, jr. Matt Maginnis and Cappo at the guards, and srs. Joe Naji and Dan Ezzo at the tackles. The four-man d-line featured Naji and Cappo at the ends with Geiger and sr. Kieran Trainer at the tackles. Sr. DT Ted Marino helped out before suffering an injury. The line's performance is evidenced by this: the three leading tacklers were linemen. Naji and Cappo halved 16 stops while Geiger had seven. Naji and Cappo were in on three apiece for losses. Jr. LB Sean Burke made four stops. (Thanks to Frog and Puck for helping with extra stuff, and to Huck for handling all afternoon boxes/details in splendid fashion with calls from our guys in assorted Pub outposts.) In a true quirk, Roman had perfect balance on offense as Kelly ran 25 times (96 yards) and Keir threw that many passes (completing eight for 97). It would have been very interesting to see what might have happened with Fuller out there all night. Regan and Johnson halved 14 stops for Roman (and that's never good when a safety has to be your top tackler). Schanz, sr. DL Corey Bronson and sr. LB Dan Pellicciotti (best pop by far!) all had six. La Salle now awaits the winner of the Pub AAAA final between Washington and Northeast.

NOV. 12
NON-LEAGUE
Germantown 28, Central 24
 
This was quite entertaining, and I could have watched more. Unfortunately, I couldn't write about it for the paper with the La Salle-Roman game in the offing tonight at Northeast. I usually have to be in the office on Friday nights to do the boxscores/details. But Huck offered to help out by fielding everyone's calls at his house, and then typing everything out and emailing it to the office, so that sprung me for La Salle-Roman. Thanks to Huck and everyone, as always! Anyway, Germantown received contributions from many. Sr. RB William/Will/Willie Parks ran 57 yards for one TD and caught a 45-yard pass from sr. QB Jerrell Saunders for another. Later, when Saunders (also one pick) suffered cramping issues, soph Hanif Dockery filled in and ran for a score in that context . . . AFTER he'd posted a 55-yard scoring dash on a flanker reverse. Nice! Central had to go without its usual QB (school issue) and jr. Ryan Dydak had some good moments while going 14-for-25 for 142 and one TD apiece to jr. WR Richard Drayton (5-55) and sr. WE Ryan Flynn (5-54). Sr. RB Zaim Tahiraj added two TDs and 80 yards on 12 carries. Dockery's second TD came with 2:03 showing and made it 28-18. Central quickly responded with Tahiraj's second score, at 1:17, and Dydak tried, as expected, an onside kick. It was a little too hard and too far downfield and G-town jr. Myles Brooker recovered to end the suspense. (More might be added to this report later. Busy weekend, folks. Thanks for understanding.)

NOV. 6
PUBLIC AAAA SEMIFINAL
Washington 13, Frankford 9
  When taking an intentional safety, what's the cutoff for TOO much time remaining? Coach Ron Cohen pushed the envelope a little when he ordered sr. P Jamear Seals to scamper out of the zone, cutting the Eagles' edge to 13-9. The reason? One-hundred and eight seconds remained. True, Frankford had no timeouts remaining, but Washington's D would need to stand tall and last we checked, every player was lookin' like Wilt Chamberlain (yes, that's a wrong-sport reference and he was WAY back in the day, but you get the idea -- smile). Here's how the sequence went: The free-kick kickoff, by jr. soccer player Jim Ricks was returned 30 yards by sr. RB-DB-KR Marc Price to the Eagles' 29. (Ricks made the tackle). Soph DT Justin Moody and sr. DE Claudy Mathieu (a very impressive pair) forced sr. QB Michael McGroarty into an intentional grounding call 8 yards behind the line, then sr. LB Josh Marcu added a 5-yard sack. This time, McGroarty did get off his pass, but sr. CB Daquan Cooper (Temple) notched his second interception of the chilly, even c-c-c-c-cold, evening to put the Eagles into next week's final vs. Northeast. Details TBA. Thus, Washington DID get past a team with the revenge factor, and now it owns one going against Northeast. Not an uncommon situation for a Cohen ballclub. That last possession was hardly Washington's first shining moment on defense. The Eagles got after it all night long, thanks to the likes of Mathieu and Moody and sr. DE Brandon Chudnoff (also Temple). The first TD, however, went to Frankford on a 1-yard run by sr. RB Jeffione Thomas (18-43) that came early in the second quarter. Jr. TE Aaron Allison made it possible with a terrific, one-hand snag of a 17-yarder on fourth-and-15, placing the ball right there at the 1. McGroarty was stopped on a "wedge" -- Frankford's forever name for a sneak -- and then McGroarty handed to Thomas on a left-side dive. Washington answered promptly as sr. RB-DB-KR English "Buddy" Peay uncorked a 41-yard return to Frankford's 46. Though two of the subsequent plays lost yardage, jr. RB Hakeem Sillman popped free for 21 yards and sr. QB Tony Smith, after nicely avoiding what could/should have been a sack, stepped forward to hit Cooper for a 29-yard score at the back of the end zone. The rest of the life featured two picks -- Cooper's and one by Frankford jr. DB-WR Savoy Martin, who also saw RB time tonight (6-46). A 2-yard sack by sr. LB Michael Moronese cut short Frankford's first possession of the third quarter and the punt carried just 15 yards to Washington's 43. The ball didn't stay there long, folks. T. Smith threw about 10 yards downfield to jr. WR-DB Nate Smith, who made the catch almost in perfectly-spaced fashion among three defenders. And there he went! Off to the races! N. Smith (no relation) also recovered a fumble late in that session. Meanwhile, Frankford's second-to-last possession, given birth by a fumble recovery that went to jr. LB Kashif Townsend, started at G-Dub's 43. Jr. RB Troy Clark, on his lone carry of the game, spurted for 10 yards on fourth-and-1 and a 4-yarder by Martin bagged another first down, placing the ball at the 14. Mathieu then stopped Martin for no gain, Martin picked up 5, Peay and Moody combined to drop Thomas for a 2-yard loss and McGroarty passed incomplete into the end zone to Allison. Allison and sr. DB Ty Jefferson momentarily, and ever so slightly, locked feet late in the sequence and both sides wanted an interference call. From the opposite side of the field, admittedly, the no-call-either-way appeared to be warranted. The early parts of the night had a weird feeling. This was Washington-Frankford, folks, but the spectators did not seem to be THAT into it. Luckily, the atmosphere improved later. As the night wound down, I was walking out of the stadium and doing an interview, someone yelled out, "Tell him, 'I learned everything from Jimmy Fowler! He's my hero!' " Nice to HEAR you, Jimmy. Can't say I saw you, though (smile).

NOV. 6
INTER-AC LEAGUE
Haverford School 18, Chestnut Hill 0
  Cold weather=defensive football. Well, not always, of course. Especially not in these point-happy times. But the chances of seeing a low-scoring game are much higher when it's chilly, as opposed to balmy, would you not agree, and, boy, did we see one today. Don't be fooled by HS' three TDs. This game was scoreless through three quarters, with very few hints of threats, and it was not hard to envision not only a point-free fourth but also, oh, maybe 27 scoreless OTs (smile). Since joining the Inter-Ac for football in 2006, CHA has almost always featured an effective ground game. Rashad Campbell for two years, brother Ibraheim for two more and jr. Cedric Madden through most of this season. So what happened today? At haltime, "Ceddy" owned THREE yards on seven carries. Uh, oh. That proved to be an omen; he finished 20-40. They say a fair one involves one dude against another or maybe two-on-two, three-on-three, etc. Well, unless my eyesight was truly screwy, HS survived a five-on-three situation. Even six-on-three. The Fords used just a three-man defensive line of sr. E Mike Tomczak, jr. T Lou Moeller and jr. E Grant Jamgochian. Of course, other guys would inch up toward the line of scrimmage, depending upon what plays were expected, but these guys were stalwarts and the Blue Devils managed only one rushing play (of 31) that netted as many as 10 yards. And that one, by sr. QB Danny Gallagher, occurred in the first quarter. HS broke the ice 1:55 into the fourth stanza on a leaping, 29-yard, left-corner TD catch by sr. WR Goran Murray. Soph Steve Fitzgerald did the throwing; his two throws were his first of the season. Immediately beforehand, HS had gone backward. Jr. QB Jim Chakey slipped while trying to hand off and a 3-yard loss resulted. Then, a holding call saw the ball being marched backward from the 11 to 29. Phew! Sr. Brian "Fly Guy" Dones, who has mastered the art of flying through the air to block PATs, did just that, so the BDs were down by only 6-0. CHA went nowhere, though, and sr. Christian Guinan punted. The ball was coughed up and recovered at the Fords' 32 by soph LB Cole Hoffmann. New life. Didn't last long. Jr. LB Ethan Brown picked off Gallagher on the 29, at the hash mark closest to HS' sideline, and raced 71 yards for a TD. The PAT again was blocked and you get one guess to nail the identity of the guy who did it. With 5:34 left, the BDs weren't completely dead. On fourth-and-4 from his own 21, coach Rick Knox had no choice but to go for it. Jr. LB Colm Cummins, who made several crunching hits, dropped Madden for a 1-yard loss and sr. RB Carl Walrath steamed for an 18-yard TD two plays later. Meanwhile, it's hard not to wonder how things would have played out had CHA not been hit with a killer holding call late in the first half. It went against sr. WR Nick Boyle and wiped a long gain on a double reverse by soph handyman Forrest Rall; from CHA's 23 to roughly HS' 15. Did he hold? It didn't appear so and the play unfolded footsteps from where I was standing. Actually, it looked as if Boyle did his job TOO well. He stayed on his man so well for so long, the official probably figured, "To be that effective, he MUST be holding." Nine of CHA's plays went for losses. Cummins (four) and Tomczak combined for seven stops behind the line. Sr. DB Michael Washington also had a pick (on CHA's final play). Walrath (12-61) and sr. FB Joe McCallion (15-69) led the Fords in rushing. Chakey and Fitzgerald took turns at QB and Walrath took some wildford snaps. Six guys made one reception apiece (don't act surprised -- smile -- because these guys always spread the ball around). HS has posted eight TD catches this season. No one has two! Amazing! So is this: By beating Episcopal next week, Haverford can become the first outright I-A champ with a losing record since Penn Charter in 1919. The Fords started 0-6, but have since claimed four in a row in league play.

NOV. 5
NON-LEAGUE
Del-Val 48, West Phila. 12
 
There was little doubt sr. wideout Brad Wilson would leave West Philly's field with the city record for career TD catches. The only question: part or all? Sr. QB Keith Page found an early rhythm and the big-'uns were mostly providing strong protection. I suspected coach Barry Thomas would at least try to get Wilson his tie for the mark -- 27 by '07 Wood grad Chris Lorditch, now playing at Harvard -- pretty much right away, especially since Wilson knotted it, then didn't knot it, two weeks ago as the Warriors were falling to Bok in a Class AA semi. In that one, he'd lost a 32-yarder to a holding call. Thomas played it straight, though. No force feeding. Ironically, the record was tied on a broken play with 9.4 seconds left in the first quarter. DV was going toward Locust Street and had the ball at West's 45. Wilson lined up along the West sideline. Whatever his pattern was going to be, plans had to change as the Speedboys, for once, slapped together a strong rush and almost sacked Page. The QB escaped, stepped up and right there, sitting at the 32, at the right hash mark, was Wilson, who was basically alone. He made the catch, headed on an angle back toward the left side and, after receiving a great downfield block from jr. RB Rob "2-Point" Davis to remove any hint of drama, easily motored into the end zone. With three minutes left in the second quarter, a 24-yard run by sr. RB Markeese Walker got the ball to the 15. Next was a pass to Wilson. Ah, but not a FORWARD pass. Brad trucked a defender while getting the ball to the 5 and came up yelling, "I am a man!!" Imagine if he'd made it into the end zone. He and his teammates likely would have thought he'd broken the record on that one, jumping around like crazy. On the next play Page hit sr. TE-WR Heleaince Gates for the 5-yard score. The mark DID come on the first series of the third quarter. There was an interesting sequence during what turned out to be the middle of the drive. First DV went with a left-side hitch pass to Wilson, who was tackled after only a 1-yard gain. What came next was the ol' hitch and go. Wilson stopped, bolted away and wound up near the left corner. The pass was a little long and his dive couldn't quite get the job done. Walker for three yards. A pass to Gates -- man, what a prospect THIS kid is -- for 23. Next came an off-target, left-to-middle slant. Lined up in the slot, Wilson, who last week trekked to Stony Brook, merely stood up, stayed right there, caught a quick bullet, evaded an ineffective attempt at a tackle and zipped across the goal line (at the Spruce Street end) at 6:23. Chest bumps. Yells. Hugs. And as Wilson lined up for the conversion, this time to the right, he bellowed, "That's that record, baby!!" Ultimately, the star of the day was DN photo intern Mitchell Leff. He stayed long after the game to get lots of shots of Brad with his family, coaches and teammates and they're all posted on philly.com. Purchase away, folks (smile). Wilson finished with four catches for 67 yards and his career totals now show 62 catches for 1,341 yards and the 28 scores. This year: 27/392/8. His quarterbacks prior to Page were Sean Williams in '09 -- they connected last year for a city postseason record 89-yarder -- and Jibri Monk in '08. DV was not a Pub member beforehand. Page went 10-for-21 for 182, with all other completions going to the 6-4, 220-pound Gates (4-58, he was even back returning kickoffs and did some people swallowing at DE)
and sr. WR Rashaan Cade (2-57). Walker, disappointed (even hissed) that he didn't make the D-1 prospects list, added 203 yards and three TDs on 23 carries. The linemen: soph C Daravan Lok, sr. Gs Antwine Carter and Darren Miller, and sr. Ts Markeith Minnick (6-5, 280) and Kyle Young. Jr. DE Jamal Allen blocked a punt for a safety and, believe it or not, West's kicker tried an onside kick from his 20 (apparently on his own). Sr. grunt David Brown recovered for West, but the ball only went seven yards. Walker ran for an immediate score. Jr. Joseph Southern, younger brother of senior twins Joshua and Christian Southern, returned that kickoff 80 yards for a score. The Speedboys' first score had been a 69-yarder to jr. WR Eric "T.O." Leslie from sr. QB Larry Richardson. Leslie is a Wilson clone in terms of production. He also exudes confidence and a love for pass-catching and, with Wilson draped all over him, he made a sensational, leaping snag for a 33-yard gain shortly before halftime. Had a nice talk with coach Thomas before the game. One of his sons, O.J., was a star RB for Frankford and today was his 37th birthday. Barry also noted that today was his very first day as a teacher, back at Edison. The year? Also 1973. You got it. He began his career and welcomed a son on the very same day! Now, 11/5 will also always be special for the Brad Wilson reason.

NOV. 4
NON-LEAGUE
Bartram 34, Future 0
 
This turned out to be the least competitive of today's four games and, honestly, that was not a surprise. So why I'd go? Well, I knew Bartram had someone deserving of ink (sr. TE-LB-Ret Russell Calloway, who's a straight A student, and today even played some RB) and if Future had somehow pulled off the upset, that would have been just fine. Future's numbers figured to be low and, phew, were they ever. Twenty kids were in uniform and six still were displaying little to no mud on their uniforms until very late, so that meant 14 guys did all the playing. After getting skunked by Fels, 50-8, in a AAAA first-round playoff last Friday (all 50 points in first half!), Bartram at least rebounded nicely. In what was somewhat of a surprise, there was no scoring until the second quarter. As that session began, a muddy, soaked football went to the sideline and a brand new one appeared. Good timing. Sr. QB Adrese Perkins rolled to his left, stopped tight to the sideline and hit Calloway for what wound being a 55-yard score. Bartram tallied three more TDs before halftime -- Perkins' 8-yard keeper, Calloway's 12-yard run out of the tailback spot and sr. TB Hashai Byfield's 7-yard run (which followed a 26-yard toss to Calloway, with a tacked-on, 7-yard, half-the-distance flag). All of those scores followed good defense that bottled up the Firebirds (plus short punts in the slop). The third quarter TD was a 6-yard pass from Perkins to jr. WR Kevin Clarke, who, believe it or not, attends a school called Greater Hope Christian Academy. Early in the game, a man later identified by Clarke as one of his teachers yelled from behind the fence, "Hey, No. 36! Kevin! Is that you!?" The man then said to someone nearby, "His uniform is muddy. I guess he's doing some work . . . Or he fell." Ha, ha, ha. Later, when a Bartram runner made a good move to leave a Future defender turned around and reaching for air, that same guy yelled, "He had my boy in spin cycle!" That guy must run a fun class. I'm in the middle of a project here, so some notes on Bartram's other headliners will have to wait. (Tomorrow morning, hopefully. Thanks for your patience.) . . . OK, here we go. Bartram's linemen were jr. C Shariff Height, sr. Gs Kamal Bloodsaw and Najee Sample, and sr. Ts Samuel Ujor and Markel Hall. Bloodsaw was also a force on the d-line, recovering a fumble and making four tackles behind the line. Sr. DL Roland Johnson also had some good moments. Future jr. DL Jahreeson Caines made three tackles at, or at least close to, the line. Back to the original report . . . My Future experience did not start well. Coach Chuck DeTaeye, working with a group along Future's sideline, said he didn't have a roster and directed me to two assistants down by the goal line. Um, no. They directed me to another assistant, working along Bartram's sideline. Um, no. Finally, one of the assistants told me me which key guys were which. C'mon, folks. Bring the roster! (Puck was bitching last week about the same development when he covered Future's game at Lincoln.) Future soph QB Christopher Batts threw just one pass (incomplete). Jr. RB Hakim McCain answered the run-it bell 26 times and, with his line overmatched, was able to produce just 37 yards. The only bright light was jr. OLB Donique Moore-Story, who recovered three fumbles.