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FOOTBALL: St. Joseph’s Prep, Conwell-Egan and Archbishop Wood Are Two Victories Away From Being Crowned State Champions

11/28/2017, 3:00pm EST
By John Knebels -Photos by Brandon Stivers & Mike Gray

PHILADELPHIA CATHOLIC LEAGUE FOOTBALL STATE PLAYOFF UPDATE:

   When November opens the door for December this coming weekend, three Catholic League football teams will be two wins away from becoming state champions.

   Utilizing a torrid running attack, Conwell-Egan, St. Joseph’s Prep, and Archbishop Wood all bullied their opponents in the PIAA quarterfinals.

   The reason for the incentive was beautifully summarized by St. Joseph’s Prep senior Brandon Sanders and could have been applied to the mentality of each surviving Catholic League squad.

   “I think that we all realize and it started to click that at this point we are playing just for one more week with each other,” said Sanders. “I think our brotherhood and family aspect allows us to look at the guy next to us and say, ‘I don’t want this to end.’ It’s amazing what we can do when we all play with such great love for each other and we trust that we’re all going to get our jobs done.”

   Sanders was coming off a career-high 103 receiving yards and touchdown catch on four receptions that helped the Prep overwhelm previously unbeaten Parkland, 49-14, in a PIAA Class 6A Saturday at Bethlehem Stadium. 


#5 St. Joseph's Prep senior wide receiver Brandon Sanders - PSD Photo by Mike Gray

Senior quarterback Marquez McCray completed 9 of 14 passes for 190 yards and scoring strikes to Sanders of 26 yards and sophomore Anthony Rightly of 46 yards.

   The Prep’s passing game was aided by junior Marques Mason and sophomore Kolbe Burrell. In the first quarter, Mason scored the Prep’s first three touchdowns, including a 96-yard kickoff return to increase the Hawks’ lead to 21-7.

   “This game was big,” said Mason. “We wanted to make a statement today and show people the Prep football brand. 

We were just clicking and doing the little things right, which led to big plays. Offense, defense, and special teams all came together and played a great game.”

Mason later scored his fourth touchdown and finished with 61 yards on carries. He and sophomore Kolbe Burrell (10 carries, 88 yards, touchdown) are now tied for team lead in TDs with 12 apiece.

   Asked if this was his best career performance, Mason deflected such praise.

   “Stat-wise, yes, this performance is up there, but overall play, no,” said Mason. “I dropped a pass. I missed a few holes. Even from a game like this there is room for improvement.”


#13 St. Joseph's Prep junior running back Marques Mason - PSD Photo by Mike Gray

Up next is Coatesville 7:00 Friday at Downingtown West High School. The Prep (12-0) will be trying to increase their two-year winning streak to 27 against the potent Red Raiders (13-1).

   “I think they’re a great team all around, so we just need to prepare to play our best game of the year, just like we’ve been doing week by week,” said Sanders. “Our only goal is to get better. We all have confidence in each other that we are able to get the job done no matter who is on the field. It all falls on us.”

   Conwell-Egan’s resurgence continued. Pushing aside all predictability, the Eagles upended Palisades, 34-17, in a PIAA Class 3A clash Saturday at Northeast High School.


#21 Conwell-Egan freshman Dajuan Harris - PSD Photo by Mike Gray


#5 Conwell-Egan junior Patrick Garwo carries for the Eagles - PSD Photo by Mike Gray

Palisades entered the game 14-0 and scuttlebutt indicated the Pirates figured it was a foregone conclusion that they would advance.

   That proved to be a major miscalculation.

   In winning their third straight and sixth in nine games, the Eagles (7-6) never trailed. A 57-yard touchdown run by freshman Dajuan Harris put them ahead to stay. Consecutive TD hauls of 74 and two yards by Blue Division Most Valuable player Patrick Garwo gave C-E a 21-3 lead at halftime.

   Harris’ career-best second touchdown increased the lead to 27-10. Palisades climbed to within 27-17, but Garwo’s 37-yard scoring dash – his third touchdown and 27th of the season – removed any doubts. 

Garwo finished with 276 yards on 30 carries and is now 162 yards short of 2,000 for the season. Harris added 97 yards on 12 rushes. Two long TD runs by Garwo were negated by penalties, one of which was highly questionable. 

“We played how we play and didn’t change,” said Garwo.” We just executed. We had a lot of penalties and people stepped up, so it was a great win. But we have to fix a lot of things for next week.”

 

   The C-E school community has been getting more and more excited as the Eagles’ season continues. On Saturday at 1:00 at West Chester Rustin High School, it only gets tougher in the semifinals, as the Eagles will take on a Middletown High School team that is 13-0 and has outscored its two tournament opponents by a composite 84-0. 

CEC vs. Palisades - 37 PSD Photos by Mike Gray

“People are starting to come on board,” said Garwo. “We started really slow in the beginning of the year so we didn’t have a lot of support, but we don’t need a lot of support as long as we got everyone on our team on board.”

   In the Class 5A match between Archbishop Wood and Wyoming Valley West Saturday at Northern Lehigh Valley, senior Nasir Peoples did what he always does – run hard and gain lots of yards.

Peoples collected 173 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to help lift the Vikings (10-2) to their eighth straight victory. The 41-14 win sets up a semifinal date with 14-1 Unionville 7:00 Friday at Northeast High School.


#5 Archbishop Wood senior Nasir Peoples - PSD Photo by Brandon Stivers


Archbishop Wood Vikings - PSD Photo by Brandon Stivers

   “We prepared all week for this game,” said senior Albert Glasgow. “We knew everything they were going to do from watching film and going over it in practice. Also, we knew they were a big team, so we knew we had to be technically sound and fire off low.

   “The defense also played great. Wyoming Valley West was a team that was going to try to run the ball and get three or four yards a play. Our defense prevented that and got their offense off of the field, which was huge for us.”

   Glasgow is a mainstay of an offensive line that includes junior Connor Bishop, senior Tommy Walsh, junior Luke Stengel, and junior Brett Gross. They helped senior Adrian Lambert rush for 54 yards and touchdown jaunts of 19 and 31 yards. Junior Chris Blackstone added 52 yards on three carries. Junior quarterback Jack Colyar and senior tight end Kyle Pitts hooked up for a 37-yard scoring strike.

   “I thought we prepared really well for this week,” said Colyar. “Coach (Steve) Devlin always says every battle is won before it’s fought because of preparation, and we were really ready for the game. We just went out and executed and things took care of themselves.”

Wood senior linebacker Eric Bauer concurred.

   “I'd say the thing that really helped us do so well today was our preparation,” said Bauer. “We watched a lot of film and figured out their scheme. We did a really good job of recognizing the sets and following the tendencies of what plays they ran out of those formations. Offensively we just executed really well. Our O-line blocked really well and our backs ran very tough.”

   Devlin likes what he has been seeing on a weekly basis.

Wood vs. Wyoming Valley - 31 PSD Photos by Brandon Stivers

   “We are playing at a high level with a ton of intensity,” said Devlin. “We are executing on both sides of the ball.”

    

(John Knebels can be contacted at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)

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