Local high school football fans have been spoiled. It seems as though when Christmas rolls around, some Catholic League team is celebrating a state championship.
Not this year.
For only the second time since the state playoffs began in 2008, there will be no Catholic League representative hoisting a state plaque. Thus ends a streak that has included La Salle winning in 2009 and 2010; West Catholic in 2010; St. Joseph’s Prep in 2013 and 2014, and Archbishop Wood in 2011, 2013, and 2014.
With limited evidence, it is mildly difficult to name a “Catholic League football team of the year.” La Salle’s season ended in a quarterfinal-round defeat against Parkland. Wood couldn’t get past mega-talented Imhotep Charter in districts, and the Prep was upended by LaSalle in the Catholic League championship.
But then there’s West Catholic, and although the Burrs fell short of celebrating its second-ever state title, West Catholic should be honored as the unofficial Catholic League football team of the year.
Before its season ended in last week’s PIAA Class AA state semifinals, West Catholic had been enjoying an incredible season.
A 34-19 loss to Southern Columbia High School did little to diminish the Burrs’ overall performance. After losing three of their first four non-league games – all against powerhouse squads – the Burrs won four straight before dropping a tough 38-35 decision against Archbishop Ryan, the second-place finisher of Class AAA.
West then captured five straight post-season victories – 46-0 over Neumann-Goretti in the Class AA semifinals; a 7-6 nail-biter over Lansdale Catholic in the AA championship; 28-18 over Del Val in the district championship; a 55-10 demolition versus New Hope-Solebury in the first round of the state tournament, and a 28-10 success against Dunmore in the quarterfinals.
Highlights were plentiful:
— A 23-6 win over Conwell-Egan secured the Burrs’ 10th consecutive regular season division title – a Catholic League record. During those 10 years, the Burrs’ record was a scary 46-1. Because the Catholic League has decided to switch back to “Red” and “Blue” Division games next year, the Burrs’ Division AA streak ends at 43 consecutive wins.
— In the win over Del-Val, Coach Brian Fluck enjoyed his 150th career win.
— In the win over New Hope-Solebury, senior Craig Jones caught two passes for 91 yards, establishing a West Catholic school record for receiving yardage. Jones finished with 35 catches for 949 yards. Not too far behind him was senior Jameer Bryson (33 for 739) and junior Amadou Barry (37-673). Bryson and Barry added seven touchdowns apiece.
— Senior quarterback Joshua Evans threw for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns as he completed 147 of 266 attempts.
— Junior Calil Wortham, who missed the season finale against South Columbia, rushed for 902 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on 172 carries.
West’s player of the year was undoubtedly Jones, the definition of a one-man wrecking crew. While collecting seven interceptions on defense, Jones finished with 17 touchdowns, and they were scored in a variety of ways – eight by pass reception, one by rushing, four by kickoff return, three by punt return, and one by an interception return. He also contributed 25 points via placekicking.
And now, the winter sports officially begin.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.