Ea­gles’ amaz­ing sea­son ends in loss to AP

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Matt Smith msmith@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @DTMat­tSmith on Twit­ter

SHARON HILL >> A fa­mil­iar face with a smart­phone walked on the field Fri­day night at Knight Park film­ing play­ers, cheer­lead­ers and fans. They all stood, frozen. Academy Park was cel­e­brat­ing its 26-13 District 1 5A quar­ter­fi­nal round vic­tory over No. 7 Bishop Shana­han by do­ing the man­nequin chal­lenge, and 2016 grad­u­ate and Al­lDelco line­man Nykeal Jal­loh was busy record­ing it all.

“Yo, bring that cam­era over here ‘Keal,’” said Teddy Wright, an All-Delco de­fen­sive back/ line­backer, who was busy do­ing a post-game in­ter­view. Too late. “Ran out of stor­age,” se­nior run­ning back Dazhon Miller quipped.

The vis­it­ing Ea­gles ran out of gas against the sec­ond­seeded Knights, who ad­vance to the semi­fi­nal round to play No. 3 Marple New­town, which

claimed a thrilling twoover­time win over West Ch­ester East.

AP (11-1) earned it­self a lit­tle play time fol­low­ing a de­ci­sive vic­tory, its 21st straight at home. The Knights are two wins away from what would be their district cham­pi­onship since 2013.

Bishop Shana­han was a wor­thy op­po­nent. Se­nior quar­ter­back Nick Skul­ski had the Knights run­ning in cir­cles by con­tin­u­ously elud­ing pres­sure in the pocket.

“He was re­ally good,” Wright said. “He’s my man. I know Nick, I play 7-on-7 with him on Delco Elite (football train­ing pro­gram). He’s a great player.”

While Skul­ski made some daz­zling plays with his arm and feet, the Knights were able to in­ter­cept him twice and con­tain the Ea­gles’ high-oc­tane pass­ing at­tack. Skul­ski fin­ished 18 of 34 for 184 yards and a touch­down.

“We knew they were re­ally good, their quar­ter­back and their re­ceivers. We saw the film,” said safety Jer­mal Martin, who recorded his team-lead­ing sixth in­ter­cep­tion. “We knew they were go­ing to be ag­gres­sive.”

Skul­ski eluded a hand­ful of would-be sacks in the third quar­ter when he found Joe Guere­ria all alone in the back of the end zone for a touch­down. Skul­ski’s magic act had pulled Shana­han (8-4) within seven points, 20-13.

The Knights were im­pressed with the 5-11, 170-pounder’s abil­ity to make some­thing out of noth­ing.

“On that one play they scored against us, he was duck­ing and div­ing,” Martin said. “The d-backs were just sit­ting there wait­ing. He was hop­ping all over the place. The guy from the back­side came over and was wide open. He was a pretty good kid.”

But the Knights were al­ways a step ahead of Skul­ski and the Ea­gles.

“We knew that in play­offs, it’s ei­ther you win or you go home,” Skul­ski said. “As a se­nior, we knew we can’t take any plays off. We couldn’t take any­thing for granted. All of us se­niors re­ally left it out on the field tonight. Our un­der­class­men were play­ing for us, too, and I can’t thank them and all of my 50 broth­ers enough. It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence.”

AP de­liv­ered a big blow on the fi­nal play of the sec­ond quar­ter. With one sec­ond left on the clock, quar­ter­back Tay­lor Moors (6-of8, 128 yards) dropped back and threw a 32-yard strike to Davoughtne Brown, who slid into the end zone for a touch­down.

“We knew they were a high-pow­ered of­fense with the run game, but it was a cou­ple mis­takes here and there,” Skul­ski said. “We knew we gave away points

at the end of the first half. We had some turnovers, too.”

While Moors de­liv­ered in the pass­ing game, the Knights dom­i­nated with their rush­ing at­tack, most notably the onetwo punch of Wright (129 yards, TD) and Miller (128 yards, TD).

Miller’s three-yard jaunt to the end zone gave the Knights the lead for good in the sec­ond quar­ter. Wright’s 16-yard scor­ing scam­per early in the fourth quar­ter gave AP a two-touch­down cush­ion.

“As long as our big guys keep push­ing, our line ... they’ve led us the whole year,” Wright said. “They open it up and we just go.”

“Our o-line did a re­ally good job for us to­day,” Miller added. “Can’t win with­out them.”

Af­ter last week, a 42-17 tri­umph over 15th-seeded Rad­nor, the Knights knew they had to be bet­ter against Shana­han. In the Rad­nor game, the Knights al­lowed the Raiders to hang around un­til the fourth quar­ter. They were fo­cused on putting forth a com­plete per­for­mance Fri­day.

“I told ev­ery­body before the game, as long as we play like a fam­ily, we’ll be good,” Miller said. “We have to play like that ev­ery game.”

The Knights opened the scor­ing when Moors found Shymere Stroud for a 46yard touch­down pass.

Af­ter pro­duc­ing 540 yards of to­tal of­fense a week ago, the Knights of­fense con­tin­ued to pro­duce, out­gain­ing the Ea­gles in to­tal yardage, 416-222. That ef­fort was helped along by the work of se­nior of­fen­sive line­man Chris Thomas, who started his 50th game on var­sity Fri­day night. A starter since his fresh­man year, Thomas is the first Academy Park player in pro­gram his­tory to reach that mile­stone.

On de­fense, Knights line­men Amara Ken­neth, Corey Sim­mons, Ka­sai Craw­ford and Cyle Martin helped limit Shana­han’s run­ning game to 43 yards on 20 car­ries.


Academy Park’s Dazhon Miller, right, churns up the yardage while Bishop Shana­han’s Steve Sweeney tries to hone in dur­ing Fri­day night’s District 1 quar­ter­fi­nal play­off vic­tory for the Knights.


Academy Park’s Jer­mal Martin, left, in­ter­cepts a pass in­tended for Bishop Shana­han wide re­ceiver John Kozin­ski Fri­day night at Knight Park.

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