De­fense leads La Salle in rout

Ex­plor­ers top Arch­bishop Ryan, win 1,000th game in pro­gram his­tory

The Review - - Sports - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

“One of the pre­dic­tions on one of the web­sites, we didn’t like it too much sowe came out pretty hot.” – Austin Lemke, La Salle se­nior line­backer

Win­ning the coin toss was the best thing that could have hap­pened for La Salle on Satur­day night.

The Ex­plor­ers pushed their choice to the sec­ond half, leav­ing Arch­bishop Ryan to face a very mo­ti­vated de­fense with a lot of pent-up ag­gres­sion ready to let off. When La Salle got the kick to start the sec­ond half, or more tech­ni­cally, the sec­ond try of the sec­ond half kick, it fin­ished off what the de­fense started in the first half.

La Salle sim­ply dom­i­nated as it rolled over the Raiders 45-7 at Ply­mouth Whitemarsh, the 1,000th game in pro­gram his­tory. It was an­other big­night for the of­fense, but only be­cause it didn’t want the de­fense to get all the brag­ging rights for theweek.

“We al­ways try to out-play the de­fense,” Ex­plor­ers se­nior run­ning back/kick re­turner Oc­tavi­ous Carter said. “They were mak­ing all these plays and the of­fense said we had to do some­thing too. We couldn’t let it be an all-de­fen­sive game.”

Carter ef­fec­tively iced the game when he took the sec­ond half kick back for a 75-yard re­turn touch­down, the first kick re­turn TD of his ca­reer.

Hewas in po­si­tion to do it be­cause the de­fense was just re­lent­less all game. A week after rout­ing Arch­bishop Car­roll, a cou­ple of the Ex­plor­ers de­fen­sive play­ers found a pre­dic­tion that had them only top­ping Ryan in a one-score game. Need­less to say, it lit a bit of a fire that sim­mered all week in prac­tice.

“We knew they had a pretty good quar­ter­back, he’s pretty ver­sa­tile and he was their big­gest threat, so we wanted to fo­cus on him and I think we all came to­gether,” La Salle se­nior line­backer Austin Lemke said. “One of the pre­dic­tions on one of the web­sites, we didn’t like it too much sowe came out pretty hot.”

Ryan started its first drive on its own 26-yard line. On the first play, se­nior line­backer Liam Trainer sacked Ryan quar­ter­back Jahill San­ders for an eight­yard loss. Le­meke stuck him for a two-yard loss on a third down keeper and by the time Ryan sent out its punt unit, the of­fense had gone back­wards eight yards.

La Salle held the Raiders to 139 total yards in the game and had 13 plays re­sult­ing in neg­a­tive yardage.

“This week in prac­tice helped us play to this po­ten­tial,” Trainer said. “We went hard ev­ery snap in prac­tice and I re­ally feel like it paid off tonight.”

La Salle’s de­fense has a number of things going for it. Firstly, it’s an ex­tremely experienced group with plenty of guys back from last season, in­clud­ing Trainer, Lemke, Chris Maloney and Gar­rett Zobel among nu­mer­ous oth­ers.

Sec­ond, there’s an edge to the way they play. Carter said the first team of­fense goes up against the first­team de­fense in prac­tice and what Lemke and Trainer bring is dif­fer­ent than any­thing he’s seen so far this season. Lemke said he wants the de­fense to strike fear in an op­po­nent from the first se­ries, to make them know the Ex­plor­ers are going to be there all night.

“It’s a good feel­ing when you come out and hush ev­ery­one up a lit­tle bit, yeah we have great weapons on of­fense and put up big num­bers but we’re as good de­fen­sively,” Lemke said. “With this front seven, it’s easy to make plays when your de­fen­sive line is fly­ing around.”

Aside from the nar­row mar­gin, the lineback­ers said the other thing that irked them about that pre­dic­tion was it had Ryan scor­ing more points than the de­fense has yet to al­low in a sin­gle game this season.

“It struck our de­fense, we talked about it and made sure it didn’t get to us too much, but it­was in the back of our heads,” Lemke said.

“The se­nior lead­er­ship has taken us this far, we have great se­nior lead­er­ship com­ing off last year,” Trainer said. “Our team leads in the right way; it’s more of a push-up and pull-up kind of lead­er­ship as op­posed to last year where we didn’t have great lead­er­ship.”

Lemke ( baseball) and Trainer ( lacrosse) are among a number of Ex­plor­ers who play spring sports, but even as they were going through those sea­sons, they were still pre­par­ing for the football season. Lemke said play­ers like Maloney and Daniel Kuznetsov spear­headed the charge.

Satur­day, Ryan had lit­tle suc­cess mov­ing the ball and all the while, the La Salle of­fense was going up and down the field, scor­ing on all five of its first half drives.

To start the sec­ond half, the Ryan kick­off went out of bounds, so Carter thought he and the of­fense would just take the ball on the 35 and keep it going. Then the coaches opted to have a redo on the kick.

“I was sur­prised be­cause it went out,” Carter said. “The coaches said to catch it in the air, but it bounced and I saw it roll.

“I thought it­might go out so I picked it up in my left hand, I was cut­ting and all I hear was my friends say ‘fol­low me,’ so I started to fol­low them and I thought ‘I can’t get caught now’ and I just kept going.”

Carter took the kick back 75 yards, weav­ing his way from the right side­line over to the left and out­run­ning ev­ery­one the last 40 or so yards. As he re­turned to the bench, a team­mate sim­ply stated “Oc­tavi­ous, you’re fast.”

La Salle hosts Fa­ther Judge next week and with 30 se­niors on the ros­ter, they know the cru­cial part of their season is fast-ap­proach­ing.

“We don’t start the first day of camp and say we’re going to be good this season, it starts right after the last season,” Trainer said. “We don’t have an all-star player, ev­ery­one shares their own piece of this team and it’s re­ally a good qual­ity to have.”

“From the first day, we said we’re not let­ting that (stuff) ever hap­pen again,” Lemke said. “We looked like the worst teamI’ve ever seen since I’ve been watch- ing La Salle game. We came out fir­ing in the weight room and once the sum­mer came around, we said we’re going to go as far as the se­niors take us.”

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