By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T
West Catholic lives on.
After falling behind North Schuylkill High School in the PIAA Class AA state quarterfinal at Palisades High in Kintnersville, Pa., Dec. 5, the Burrs scored 19 unanswered points and emerged victorious.
Their 19-14 victory sends them into the AA semifinals against Lancaster Catholic at 1 p.m. Saturday at Coatesville High School. Last year, the Burrs defeated Lancaster Catholic in the state semifinals.
The Burrs, fighting the elements of frigid winds and annoying snow, scored in three different ways – by run, by pass and on defense. That is precisely the kind of teamwork that coach Brian Fluck appreciates.
“At this point you have to have all elements of your game playing well,” said Fluck. “You can’t take a single play off.”
Trailing 7-0, the Burrs tied the game in the first quarter when quarterback Jarred Evans fired a 76-yard, catch-and-run touchdown pass to Quran Kent.
On the first play of the second quarter, sophomore Kevin Malone picked off a pass that was tipped by junior teammate Jim Lynch and rumbled 42 yards for the go-ahead score.
A 20-yard scoring scamper by senior Brian Mosby increased the lead to 19-7 at halftime, and after previously unbeaten North Schuylkill moved within five points in the third quarter, the Burrs’ defense held.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two teams was that West was careful with the ball while North Schuylkill was careless. The Spartans’ three turnovers led directly to West Catholic touchdowns, including a fumble recovery by West’s John Ruppert that was followed by Mosby’s scoring dash late in the second quarter.
“You have to take advantage of what the other team gives you,” said Evans. “Our defense did a great job all day, and they made it easy for the offense a couple of times.”
The Burrs are now 11-2 and winners of nine consecutive games. Ironically, the only two teams that West Catholic lost to this year were La Salle and Archbishop Wood; this weekend both of those teams will be playing in state semifinals in the Class AAAA and Class AAA spanisions, respectively.
But records are basically obsolete at this stage. The only thing the Burrs are looking forward to is once again acquiring position to snare a state crown. They advanced to the championship last year before losing a heartbreaker.
Taking on a team they have already defeated a year ago doesn’t matter much, and the Burrs realize that.
“I’m sure they will be coming out looking to (avenge) last year,” said Allen. “We have to be ready.”
A team obviously on a mission, the chances of West Catholic taking the field unprepared or uninspired is a definite long shot.
“I think our guys know what’s at stake,” said Fluck. “I’m very proud of how they’ve performed. We’ve gone up against some very good teams but our guys won’t ever back down.”
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.