Capone’s ex­tra point sends GA past Judge

The Review - - Sports - By Tyler Sablich

FORT WASH­ING­TON » Ger­man­town Academy had Fa­ther Judge right where they wanted them: tie game with 15 sec­onds left, inside Fa­ther Judge’s 5-yard-line cour­tesy of a clutch in­ter­cep­tion, wait­ing for the game-win­ning field goal to fly through the up­rights. But then se­nior kicker Michael Capone pulled the chip-shot wide to the left.

In over­time, Capone got his sec­ond chance. Af­ter Fa­ther Judge won the coin toss and thus re­ceived first pos­ses­sion, Cru­saders run­ning back Tim Wel­don put them ahead by a score, but kicker Jack Is­dell booted the ex­tra point a cou­ple feet too short.

Ger­man­town Academy run­ning back Tan­ner Long tied the game on the en­su­ing drive. He re­ceived a pass from quar­ter­back Colton Niedziel­ski and bounced off tack­lers like a pin­ball ma­chine, ul­ti­mately find­ing his way into the end zone. In came Capone, who turned it into a story of re­demp­tion for him­self and a 21-20 win for the Pa­tri­ots.

“I don’t say much to (Capone),” Ger­man­town Academy head coach Matt Dence said. “You give him some con­fi­dence and he has a strong enough leg and enough at­ten­tion to de­tail. The whole team went out there and picked him up and I think that helped in the end.”

While Capone had a flair for the dra­mat­ics, it would be un­just to take any­thing away from the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the game it­self. It was a con­stant back-and­forth strug­gle that fea­tured some strong quar­ter­back play, but also some grave er­rors by said quar­ter­backs. Both de­fenses were es­pe­cially strong.

“Our de­fen­sive prepa­ra­tion is out­stand­ing,” Dence said. “(De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor) Steve Moll and his de­fen­sive staff is as good as they come and our kids buy into the scheme and work hard.”

One de­fen­sive stand­out in par­tic­u­lar was sopho­more cor­ner­back Shane Harkins. With a minute left in the game, Harkins picked off Fa­ther Judge quar­ter­back Shane Doo­ley around Ger­man­town Academy’s own 40 yard-line. Af­ter the Pa­tri­ots failed to cap­i­tal­ize and were forced to punt, Doo­ley made an­other in­ter­cep­tion, this time the re­cip­i­ent of a poor de­ci­sion by Doo­ley. Harkins was chased down inside the five, set­ting Capone up for the afore­men­tioned field goal that he ul­ti­mately missed.

Harkins, who also plays wide re­ceiver, called it the “coolest” moment of his young foot­ball ca­reer.

“I’ve been play­ing foot­ball since I was five years old start­ing with flag [foot­ball], and noth­ing can top that,” Harkins said. “I was go­ing to cut back (near the goal line), but I de­cided to leave it up to my of­fense to try and do the job.

“I told (Capone) we’re go­ing to get him an­other shot again,” Harkins con­tin­ued. “I knew in over­time he would get an­other chance.”

On the ground, Fa­ther Judge pre­sented a steady mix of Wel­don and ju­nior Ka­tob Joseph. Doo­ley him­self rou­tinely es­caped pres- sure and scam­pered for re­spectable yardage. Ger­man­town Academy, on the other hand, does not de­ploy what foot­ball en­thu­si­asts would call a pro­to­typ­i­cal run­ning back.

Se­nior Tan­ner Long is al­most the lead back by de­fault, while fresh­man Lacey Snow­den’s role in the of­fense will con­tinue to grow as the sea­son goes on. In fact, Snow­den ripped off a 63-yard run on the open­ing play from scrim­mage in the sec­ond half, his first touch of the game. He was used only mod­estly there­after. Sopho­more Trae Vance also sees time in the back- field and con­tin­ues to pol­ish his game.

Long, while ef­fec­tive in short-yard sit­u­a­tions, is not a work­house back be­cause, well, he’s lit­er­ally the size of a linebacker. In fact, he’s com­mit­ted to the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia to play linebacker for the Quak­ers next sea­son.

“We used to be more of a spread of­fense, and then when I’m back there it’s more of a ground and pound up the mid­dle,” Long said. “We have amuch big­ger (of­fen­sive) line this year, prob­a­bly the big­gest line we’ve had since Coach Dence has been here. We like to ground and pound the ball be­hind our lead block­ers and tire the de­fense out.”

But on Satur­day af­ter­noon he shined bright as an of­fen­sive play­maker. In a do-or-die over­time spot, Long gath­ered the dumpoff pass and re­fused to go down.

“I wanted to score for our guys,” Long said. “When I got the ball I just knew I wasn’t go­ing down. It was a nice play and I’m proud of (Capone) for bounc­ing back. Af­ter he missed that field goal I told him to get the next one. I knew we were go­ing to need him to win it for us again.”

As for Dence, not only did his team grind out a win, but he also beat his Alma mater in the process.

“I’m sure there’s prob­a­bly peo­ple in the area who didn’t think the game was go­ing to be com­pet­i­tive and that (Fa­ther Judge) was go­ing to im­pose their will on us,” Dence said. “I know what a Judge man is all about. They’re phys­i­cal, hard-nosed kids. But I think we’ve brought a lit­tle bit of that to Ger­man­town Academy.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ger­man­town Academy’s Tan­ner Long ran in the even­tual game-win­ning TD Satur­day against Fa­ther Judge.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ger­man­town Academy’s Colton Niedziel­ski pic­tured dur­ing prac­tice ear­lier this sea­son.

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