Cathe­dral Prep tops Wood in state fi­nal

The Willow Grove Guide - - OPINION - By Mike Prince


com Be­hind a fresh­man quar­ter­back and one of the best run­ning of­fenses in the state, Arch­bishop Wood found it­self right back in the state ti­tle game, look­ing to de­fend the crown it earned last year af­ter a 52-0 de­struc­tion of Bishop McDe­vitt.

But go­ing against a team that not only had its way with McDe­vitt one week ear­lier in a state semi­fi­nal matchup, but which also pos­sesses a quar­ter­back-run­ning back tan­dem that will be seen at Michi­gan State next year, the Vik­ings ran into a bit if trou­ble.

Af­ter not los­ing a sin­gle game to a Class AAA team since the 2010 state semi­fi­nals, Wood faced its tough- est chal­lenge of the sea­son in Erie Cathe­dral Prep. And de­spite a touch­down on their open­ing drive, the Vik­ings fell com­pletely flat.

Be­hind the Michi­gan State-bound quar­ter­back, Damion Terry, Cathe­dral Prep ripped off 24 con­sec­u­tive points in the first half and cruised to a 24-14 win over Wood in the PIAA Class AAA cham­pi­onship at Her­shey­park Sta­dium on Fri­day night.

Af­ter reel­ing off eight con­sec­u­tive wins en route to their third state ti­tle birth in five years, the Vik­ings fi­nally found them­selves on the wrong side of the score­board af­ter what was a sea­son which many didn’t be­lieve to be pos­si­ble for Wood.

“I’m proud as heck of th­ese guys,” said Wood coach Steve Devlin, whose team lost six Di­vi­sion 1 play­ers to grad­u­a­tion from last year’s team. “We came out in the sec­ond half, but we just couldn’t get enough points to get it done. That’s a very good foot­ball team over there with Prep and they made some plays and ex­e­cuted, but hats off to my guys. We never gave up and we bat­tled.”

The Vik­ings, who had outscored their op­po­nents P58151 dur­ing their re­cent eightgame win­ning streak, looked good early on, cap­ping off a seven-play, 80-yard drive with a P2-yard touch­down run by ju­nior half­back gosh Messina just over three min­utes into the first quar­ter.

But the un­de­feated Ram­blers not only had an an­swer of their own on of­fense, but com­pletely dom­i­nated the Vik­ings on both sides of the ball for the re­main­der of the half.

Cathe­dral Prep tied the game on a 59-yard touch­down pass from Terry to Troy Woodard mid­way through the first quar­ter. And af­ter stop­ping the Vik­ings’ of­fense a few times, the Ram­blers scored three more times be­fore the end of the half, in­clud­ing a touch­down run by Terry and an­other pass­ing score by the se­nior late in the sec­ond quar­ter.

“This kid (Terry) was a com­bi­na­tion of throw­ing and pass­ing, so it was just choose your weapon,” Wood de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Carey said. “At times, we were on our heels. Our coaches do such an amaz­ing job with our de­fen­sive backs, but in my

P0 years, I don’t think I ever had a touch­down thrown on me where we didn’t have a guy cov­er­ing the guy. That hap­pened twice in the first half and it was just mind­bog­gling.”

In the sec­ond half, Wood was fi­nally able to do what it has been known for do­ing all sea­son long – break off the big run.

Late in the third quar­ter, Wood se­nior tail­back An­drew Guckin ripped off a 28-yard run and fol­lowed it with a five-yard score to record his P0th touch­down of the year, bring­ing the Vik­ings to within 10 points of Cathe­dral Prep.

But that would be all the of­fense the Vik­ings would be able to muster, as the Michi­gan State-bound Del­ton Wil­liams and the Cathe­dral Prep de­fense kept Wood in check un­til the end.

Af­ter con­vert­ing a num­ber of fourth down con­ver­sions, Wood fresh­man quar­ter­back Tom Gar­lick was in­ter­cepted in the end zone with 4:1P show­ing on the clock to end any hopes at a come­back for the de­fend­ing state cham­pi­ons.

“It’s just tough be­cause from the be­gin­ning, we moved the ball well,” said Guckin, the Philadel­phia Catholic League’s most valu­able player. “The whole game, we moved the ball, but we killed our­selves with penal­ties. Even on de­fense, we killed our­selves with blown cov­er­age. It was frus­trat­ing. We tried to take it one play at a time and chip away and chip away in the sec­ond half, but we couldn’t put it away at the end.”

Gar­lick had a tough time un­der cen­ter, com­plet­ing just 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards. Guckin had a solid night on the ground, rush­ing P0 times for 1T8 yards and one score. Messina added 124 yards and a touch­down on 1T car­ries, while also catch­ing four passes for P5 yards.

Wood fin­ished with P05 rush­ing yards on 52 car­ries. For the sea­son, Guckin fin­ished with 1,9T0 yards and P0 touch­downs on 219 car­ries.

Cathe­dral Prep, which fin­ished its sea­son with a per­fect 15-0 record, was led by Terry, who com­pleted 1P of 24 passes for P1T yards with­out throw­ing an in­ter­cep­tion. He passed for two scores while run­ning for an­other. Wil­liams fin­ished with P4 yards on the ground and 5P more in the air.

Terry fin­ished the sea­son with 50 touch­down passes, throw­ing for P,599 yards while com­plet­ing 222 of PPP passes.

The state cham­pi­onship was the first in 12 years for Cathe­dral Prep, which de­feated Cen­tral Bucks West 41-P5 in over­time in the 2000 ti­tle game. The Ram­blers were ranked 19th over­all in the USA To­day Su­per 25 high school foot­ball rank­ings en­ter­ing Fri­day night’s game.

Wood’s sea­son ended with an over­all record of 12-P, but the Vik­ings will re­turn a num­ber of play­ers to next year’s team and look to add to the success that the team has seen over the past five sea­sons, which in­cludes five PCL ti­tles, five district ti­tles and three trips to the state fi­nal.

“I just told the kids that I think they’re a great group, es­pe­cially the se­niors,” Devlin said. “I wouldn’t want to coach any other group of kids. They’re tremen­dous. The An­drew Guck­ins and the Nick Ar­cidi­a­conos and the Fran Wal­shes and the Ge­orge Griffins – all of them are great se­niors and we’re go­ing to miss those guys a lot. For the younger kids, this is a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and some­thing they can build on for years to come.”

Ex­tra points: Mike Carey, the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the Vik­ings, was the head coach of Cen­tral Bucks West in 2000, which co­in­ci­den­tally also lost to Erie Cathe­dral Prep in the state ti­tle. For Wood, the loss was the first to a Class AAA team since the 2010 PIAA semi­fi­nals, which saw the Vik­ings lose to Al­len­town Cen­tral Catholic. Wood’s only losses this sea­son came to Class AAAA teams St. goseph’s Prep and North Penn. Messina, who will likely be the start­ing half­back next sea­son, fin­ished the 2012 cam­paign with TT9 yards and eight touch­downs on the ground and also had 15 catches for 18P yards and two scores.

Mont­gomery Me­dia / BOB RAINES

Arch­bishop Wood’s An­drew Guckin cuts be­tween Cathe­dral Prep’s Mar­ion Tyree and Ni­cholas Dubowski dur­ing Fri­day’s PIAA Class AAA cham­pi­onship game at Her­shey­park Sta­dium.

Mont­gomery Me­dia / SCOTT RO­MAN

Hat­boro-Hor­sham’s Walt Kim­ble de­fends Soud­er­ton’s Carter Knight dur­ing Tues­day’s Sub­ur­ban One Con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence ac­tion.

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