By John Knebels
That sound you heard throughout the area this past weekend was Catholic League football teams opening their respective seasons against non-league opponents.
Each of the 17 teams participated, and the end result was a composite 8-9 record, although two of those losses occurred in Catholic vs. Catholic contests.
In what is typical at this early time of the season, several teams were particularly impressive while others struggled. Since the Catholic League has become a member of the PIAA this year, the following games ultimately serve as tune-ups to a potential new prized possession, a state crown.
But first things first …
Rob Harris rushed for 126 yards and Tony Smith threw two touchdown passes to lead Father Judge to a 35-20 victory at Council Rock North.
Mike Donohoe’s 106 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, and Drew Loughery’s two scoring passes helped lift LaSalle to an impressive 45-0 win at Plymouth-Whitemarsh. Jamal Abdur-Rahman also scored twice for the Explorers. Kevin Farrington and Vinny Migliarese led the defense with one interception apiece.
Cardinal O’Hara’s 35-0 shutout win over Archbishop Carroll in Ocean City, N.J. was fueled by Corey Brown (173 yards rushing on nine carries, three touchdowns) and Evan Higgins (132 on six carries, two touchdowns) and a Lions’ defense that surrendered only 142 yards.
St. Joseph’s Prep traveled to nationally ranked Parkland High (Orefield, Pa.) and enjoyed a come-from-behind 20-13 triumph, thus ending the PIAA Class AAAA runner-up’s 23-game, regular-season winning streak. Mike Yeager rushed for 122 yards and scored one touchdown while teammate Garrett Compton added 51 yards and another tally to help the Hawks erase a 10-0 deficit. Kurt Skalamera’s two field goals, one from 37 yards, provided the winning margin.
The first official nailbiter of the season involved last year’s Red and Blue spanision champions, respectively, Roman Catholic and West Catholic in Wildwood, N.J. When it was over, West had triumphed, 34-28, in overtime. The loss spoiled an incredible performance by Roman’s Kasseim Everett, who gained 206 yards and scored three touchdowns. But it was the composite 310 yards rushing and five touchdowns from the West Catholic trio of Ray Maples, Rob Hollomon, and Curtis Drake that proved to be too much.
Actually, there was a co-nailbiter taking place at Pennridge, where Archbishop Wood lost a 43-42 decision in triple overtime thanks to a surprise two-point conversion run. An exhausted Sean Cunningham scored four touchdowns and gained 195 yards on 36 carries in defeat.
Coach Jim Algeo began his 41st season as head coach of Lansdale Catholic in style, defeating visiting Downingtown East, 14-7, in what was LC’s first-ever contest as a member of the Catholic League. Ethan Barrett and John Howell each scored for the Crusaders.
In Monsignor Bonner’s 28-7 loss at Upper Darby, quarterback Anthony DiGalbo connected with John Wichmann for 106 yards and one touchdown.
Two touchdown passes from Russ Slawter fell a bit short as Archbishop Ryan dropped a 21-20 decision at Pennsbury.
The highlight of Neumann Goretti’s 41-0 loss at Upper Merion was a 40-yard hook-up from Anthony Mastrando to Frank Coleman.
Bishop McDevitt pummeled host Lower Moreland, 35-0, as Matt Conroy rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns while Luke Sawick threw a pair of touchdown passes.
North Catholic lost at Coatesville, 16-6, despite Eugene Boyd’s 100 yards rushing and a touchdown run.
Kennedy-Kenrick dropped a 27-14 decision at Bristol despite big numbers from quarterback Ryan Sejda (188 yards passing) and Noah Mascio (100 yards receiving, one touchdown on seven receptions).
Cardinal Dougherty fell at Chestnut Hill, 45-0, as the Blue Devils maintained possession for most of the contest and used their defense to stymie the Cardinals’ passing game.
In Conwell-Egan’s 21-0 loss at Upper Moreland, Matt Della-Croce completed 8 of 12 passes for 117 yards.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.