By John Knebels
Win a game, lose a coach.
Well, the two aren’t exactly related, but that’s the way it went for Fairless Hills’ Conwell-Egan High School on Thanksgiving Day.
A few minutes after celebrating the Eagles’ first victory of the season after nine losses, nine-year coach Kevin Kelly informed his players that he would not be returning next year.
“The time felt right,” said Kelly.
Kelly said he had made up his mind sometime during the month-long break between the Eagles’ game against Roman Catholic and their always-anticipated Turkey Day battle with Truman.
Relinquishing the reins was obviously not an easy decision.
“I enjoyed my time,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have some great kids who have a lot of talent.”
Kelly inherited a program that had won only 35 of its previous 174 games (three contests ended in a tie), but during his tenure, the Eagles were always competitive. In nine seasons at the helm, he led the Eagles to a 52-55 overall record and five winning seasons; take away two tough seasons and his record was 50-35.
Perhaps Kelly’s best coaching job occurred in 2008, when he helped guide a team coming off a 1-11 record to an 8-4 finish and a post-season spot.
Thanks to an impressive effort, Kelly’s career at C-E ended on a positive note. In the Eagles 27-19 victory over neighborhood rival Harry S Truman High School, the running game dominated behind a strong offensive line and the running of a trio of seniors.
While Rich Brown gained 110 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries, Vince Benedetti added 92 yards and two tallies on 13 tries. Quarterback John Clark contributed 95 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and in the air he completed seven passes for 130 yards — 60 to Brown and 53 more to senior Jack McGurrin.
Kelly said he would consider coaching next year if the right situation was available.
In other Thanksgiving Day action …
Malvern Prep edged St. Joseph’s Prep 14-13 at Villanova University on a field covered with snow; yes, snow. A quick burst of fluffy white stuff seemed to come out of nowhere, and as it ultimately combined with rain and turned into sleet, it proved to make a difference as both teams occasionally struggled to maintain their footing.
In the end, senior Bob Scaramuzza’s 106 yards and touchdown on 18 carries made the difference, as the Friars defeated the Hawks for the third consecutive season and the second straight by one point.
Father Judge blanked Lincoln 34-0 as junior Raul Quinones gained 103 yards on 17 carries while junior quarterback Rob Daniels fired two touchdown passes.
Archbishop Ryan was defeated by George Washington 20-7 with the Raiders’ only touchdown scored by senior Marcus Allen.
In Roman Catholic’s 49-6 victory over Roxborough, Marcus Kelly went over the 1,000-yard plateau when he rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Sophomore Mike Keir connected with senior tight end Dan Pellicciotti for a pair of touchdown passes.
SS. Neumann-Goretti senior Mark Stinsman’s touchdown pass to senior Chad McPherson (three catches for 101 yards) proved to be the difference in the Saints’ 6-0 win over Southern.
Lansdale Catholic lost a 49-27 slugfest at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, but the Crusaders wouldn’t go away easily thanks to the aerial display of quarterback Andrew Mandato and receiver Matt Pinzka. The seniors connected six times for 139 yards and two scores.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.