And then there was one.
Hopes of having two teams from the Catholic League capture state football titles was cut in half last Friday, Dec. 7 when La Salle was edged by Coatesville, 42-35, in the Class AAAA semifinals.
But to the rescue came Archbishop Wood, which simultaneously manhandled Allentown Central Catholic, 36-6, in the Class AAA semifinals to advance to the state championship scheduled for Friday Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in Hershey.
“Great win,” said Wood coach Steve Devlin. “We took control early and did a lot of good things.”
In the state final, the Vikings will take on undefeated Erie Cathedral Prep. Despite owning such an impressive – and perfect – resume, ECP might be in for some trouble.
The Vikings (12-2), who have defeated 11 of their opponents by three touchdowns or more, played like a team on a mission.
By halftime, the victor was already determined. The Vikings led, 36-0. Without a running clock, there was no telling how many points Wood could have scored, as it appeared as though the Vikings tallied at will.
Instead, the Vikings played clock control after amassing 297 yards on the ground during the first two quarters. It was similar to the kind of dominance Wood displayed last year in a 70-14 win over the same school.
The main culprits behind the impressive victory were senior Andrew Guckin and junior Josh Messina. While the former rushed for 141 yards (thus climbing to 1,817 for his career with one more chance at reaching two grand) and his 29th touchdown of the season on 10 carries, the latter also reached triple digits with 102 yards rushing and two TDs (one via a reception) on eight carries.
Add sophomore Jarrett McClenton’s 55-yard touchdown bolt on his only carry of the game and freshman quarterback Tom Garlick’s two scoring tosses (one each to Messina and senior Chris Rahill) and, well, it obviously wasn’t a fun day for Central Catholic.
Next comes an Erie Cathedral Prep squad that is 14-0 and ranked 19th in the nation by USA Today. The Ramblers are led by Michigan State University-bound quarterback Damion Terry. While the standout three-year starter reportedly won’t have his top receiver, Brendan Klemensic, at his disposal, he and his teammates figure to make the Vikings fight extremely hard if they are to finish with a nine-game winning streak and, much more importantly, a consecutive state title.
Terry can both pass (209-for-309, 3,282 yards and 48 touchdowns versus only seven interceptions) and run (640 yards and 11 touchdowns). He figures to do both against the Vikings.
As for the aforementioned La Salle, a host of injuries to key personnel paid huge negative dividends for the Catholic League champs. The Explorers finished 12-2.