Every year at this time, there’s a palpable excitement among high school sports fans that’s difficult to ignore.

It’s football time.

Nothing against the other sports, which obviously provide their own particular brand of revelry. It probably can be explained by the infrequency of the schedule; playing once a week, or sometimes once every two weeks, makes each contest a special event.

Too, the commencement of high school football is greeted with huge crowds that reconnect with each other while watching rivalries be renewed, and then still enjoy the possibility of heading back to the shore for the rest of the weekend.

In a time-honored tradition at CatholicPhilly.com (the digital successor to The Catholic Standard and Times), we bring you a roundup of the first weekend of competition featuring Catholic League high school teams.

Defending AAAA champion La Salle is on a rebuilding plan, but don’t tell that to usually rugged North Penn High School. In Plymouth Meeting, the Explorers walloped the Knights, 34-7, leaving North Penn senior quarterback Austin Shearer flabbergasted.

“That team can play,” he said. “We did all we could to stop them from getting through the line. They just … they just kept getting through.”

Before it was over, the Explorers dominated on both sides of the ball en route to the victory.

Whatever North Penn attempted, La Salle had an answer. Typically one of the area’s best running teams, La Salle’s powerful defensive line and aggressive linebackers thwarted almost every North Penn attempt. The Explorers allowed only 66 yards of total offense in the first half and 163 for the game – much of that against non-starters.

Meanwhile, La Salle’s offense was splendid, amassing 410 total yards. Junior quarterback Kyle Shurmur, a transfer student whose father Pat is the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, completed 16 of 25 passes for 182 yards and touchdown strikes to running back Jordan Meachum and Jim Herron. Meachum also contributed 108 rushing yards and a game-opening, four-yard touchdown run.

Jared Walls added a 17-yard scoring run and, leading 27-7 in the fourth quarter, backup QB Chris Ferguson connected with Charles Headen for a 12-yard touchdown.

In other games:

* Archbishop Ryan’s Samir Bullock set a school record for rushing yardage. He finished with 345 yards – 97 more than the previous mark by Mike Erbrick in 1990 – as the Raiders defeated Cardinal O’Hara, 37-20.

* Lansdale Catholic upended Conwell-Egan, 28-7, as Mike Iacono and Ryan Quigley combined for 123 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Mike Isabella added 60 more yards on 11 carries.

* Defending AAA champion Archbishop Wood had no problem stopping Bensalem, 38-7. Jarrett McClenton (two touchdowns), Kendall Singleton, Chris Gary, and Joe Dutkiewicz all scored, and quarterback Tom Garlick offered an efficient 5 of 7 passing for 160 yards. Four of those completions were hauled in by Singleton for 140 yards.

* Archbishop Carroll edged neighborhood rival Radnor, 19-14, as Austin Tilghman amassed 130 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries. Joey Rodden caught two passes for 38 yards.

* In another neighborhood battle, Bonner-Prendergast dropped a heartbreaking, 28-27 overtime decision to Upper Darby. Joe DePhillipo rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns in defeat.

* Defending AA champ West Catholic defeated Haverford School, 26-14, behind Greg White’s 101 yards on 27 carries and quarterback Antoine McCollum’s two touchdown runs and one TD pass. McCollum was 13 for 22 for 167 yards before giving way to teammate Pat Amara, who proceeded to add a touchdown pass of his own. Ahkil Crumpton caught five passes for 125 yards.

* Despite Marquis Seamon’s 141 yards and touchdown run on 17 carries, and Yeedee Thaenrat’s two interceptions, Father Judge lost to Episcopal Academy, 30-22.

* Neumann-Goretti beat Furness, 35-14, in Wildwood, N.J., as Sihmare Morgan garnered 130 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

* St. Joseph’s Prep traveled all the way to Dallas, Texas, and the Hawks made the most of their long jaunt.

A back-and-forth affair eventually succumbed to a dominant second half by the Prep, which flew home with a 48-27 triumph. A balanced offense featured quarterback Chris Martin completing 13 of 16 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

A standout effort by John Reid included two touchdown catches, a touchdown rush, and a touchdown interception return. Four different Hawks gained between 46 and 62 yards on the ground and three different players scored. On defense, four different players seized interceptions, one by Vince Moffett that was returned for a touchdown.

A lot of smiling Hawks returned to North Philly after a job well done.

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Freelance writer John Knebels can be reached at jknebs@aol.com.