Cathedral Prep tops Wood in state final
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.
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.
Hatboro-Horsham’s Walt Kimble defends Souderton’s Carter Knight during Tuesday’s Suburban One Continental Conference action.