Wissahickon rolls past Upper Merion
There weren’t shouts of joy and dancing girls surrounding Wissahickon High football practices this week.
After two disappointing losses in a row, the Trojans had watched their Suburban One League title chances disappear while their district playoff dreams were on life support.
To make matters worse, the handshake line following last week’s loss to Cheltenham erupted into a brawl and four Wissahickon players were suspended for Friday night’s meeting with Upper Merion.
Trojans coach Jeff Cappa knew his troops’ egos were so low they were looking up at the soles of their shoes.
So he presented them a challenge.
“It was tough to do when we were as down as we were,” Cappa said, “but we gave them a challenge of playing hard and playing with intensity this week.”
By halftime Friday evening, the Trojans were in front by 42 points.
Yep, the challenge was met - and then some.
Wissahickon’s offense VFRUHG Rn IRuU RI LWV fiYH fiUVWhalf possessions, Greg McDonough scored on a 66-yard punt return and Gordon Bentley found the end zone with a 102-yard interception return as the Trojans rolled to a 4922 win over Upper Merion.
“I was real proud of our guys,” Cappa said. “For them to come back and play as they did tonight, I’m proud of them and our coaches.”
The Trojans showed they meant business from the outset, EuOOGRzLnJ 60 yDUGV Rn fiYH Uunning plays to take a 7-0 lead just 2:09 into the game.
Then, after stopping Upper Merion on downs near PLGfiHOG, WKH 7URMDnV wHnW 57 yards on eight plays, with DDn 0uUSKy VFRULnJ WKH fiUVW RI KLV WwR fiUVW-KDOI WRuFKdowns, a 13-yarder that put the visitors in front, 14-0.
“Our running game was real good and we were able to capitalize on it early, so we stuck with it,” Murphy said.
“We wanted to get back to what we do well, and that’s running the ball,” Cappa said. “We have a strong offensive line, but a couple of those guys were out (because of the Cheltenham extracurriculars) and some of our young guys stepped up and played real well.
“Plus, we moved (All-League lineman) Khalil Roberts back and forth between the right and left sides of our front and ran behind him a lot of the time.”
The Wissahickon intensity was evident, even to the Vikings.
“(Wissahickon) came here, got physical with us and we didn’t match their physicality,” said Upper Merion coach Harold Smith. “Basically, they came here and smacked us in the mouth.”
With two scores already on the board, McDonough made it three when he latched on to a Kevin O’Sullivan punt at his own 34 and took it the distance. With 1:51 left in the opening quarter, the Trojans were on top, 21-0.
A little over two minutes later, it was 28-0 when Bentley stepped in front of a Carmen Fortino pass two yards deep in the end zone, headed to the right sideline and cruised 102 yards to put the visitors in front by four scores.
“:H FDPH RuW UHDO fiUHG uS and it was a lot of fun,” said Trojans linebacker C.J. Virtu. “Any time your special teams and your defense can put points on the board, it’s a plus.”
Before the half ended, the Trojans would balloon the lead to 42-0 as Murphy struck paydirt from the 9-yard line and quarterback 5DnGy )UDnNHnfiHOG EuFNHG in from the 1-yard line with 2:13 left in the half.
To add insult to injury, the Trojans held the Vikings on three plays, starting at the Wissahickon two, in the closing seconds of the half.
Wissahickon sat its regulars in the second half, and Upper Merion showed some fortitude of its own, scoring on Michael Grant’s 95-yard kickoff return to open the half, a 54-yard hookup from Fortino to Tyreice Jenerette and Isaiah Aliciea’s touchdown run with 4:35 left in the game.
But by then, the Trojans had already bullied their way out of the doldrums.
“That really doesn’t matter,” said Cappa when asked if the win restored the Trojans’ playoff chances. “For us, it was a three-game seaVRn DnG WKLV wDV WKH fiUVW RnH.
“Now we’re looking ahead to No. 2.”