With the Catholic League season completed and champions crowned, all but one of the 14 teams will compete in the PIAA District tournament over the next two weeks. Below are summaries and predictions of this weekend’s contests.
Class 6A Semifinal: Father Judge vs. St. Joseph’s Prep, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Widener University. Catholic League Red Division champion St. Joseph’s Prep (8-0 overall) is on a two-year, 22-game winning streak, including a 42-7 win over Father Judge (3-7).
“We just need to play our brand of football,” said senior defensive lineman Ryan Bryce. “At practice this week, we (worked on) ways to get ourselves better.”
Prediction: The Prep’s winning streak reaches 23 after a 48-7 victory.
Class 6A Semifinal: Roman Catholic vs. La Salle, 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. Roman Catholic (2-8) could not be meeting La Salle at a worse time. After losing their last two Red Division games to toughies St. Joseph’s Prep and Archbishop Wood, the Explorers (6-3) are in a foul mood.
“We have to play our game,” said senior two-way tackle Dan Kuznetsov. “We have to play four hard quarters of La Salle football. If we do that, we will be a hard team to stop.”
Prediction: La Salle beat Roman, 42-7, during the regular season. This time, the Explorers add a touchdown and subtract another in a 49-0 victory.
Class 5A Semifinal: Archbishop Carroll vs. Archbishop Ryan, 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at Northeast High School. Archbishop Ryan (4-6) struggled against the best teams in the 6A but did well against the others, like the 27-13 triumph over Carroll (3-7).
“As a team, we have to realize that there is nothing after this, especially for the seniors,” said senior two-way tackle Anthony Warnick. “This could be the last time we put on pads, so we gotta go out there and leave it on the field.”
Ryan junior wide receiver/defensive back Kyron Long is thinking similarly.
“We have to buckle down and give it all we have,” said Long. “It’s all business from now on. It’s win or go home.”
Prediction: The Raiders don’t go home after toppling Carroll, 27-7.
Class 4A Semifinal: Bonner-Prendergast vs. Cardinal O’Hara, 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at Cardinal O’Hara. Although the Lions finished third in the Blue Division, they were of championship caliber, losing three games by a composite margin of 14 points. Among their victories was a 21-0 shutout of the Friars (1-9).
“We know the season is on the line,” said senior two-way lineman Tom Wertz. “Given that it’s a game against our biggest rival in our last home game, it is definitely a very emotional game. Bonner is a good team and they will come out ready to play, but if we do our jobs, everything will take care of itself.”
Prediction: Cardinal O’Hara is a very dangerous foe for anyone, as suggested by its 28-0 shutout.
District 1/12 Class 2A Sub-regional: West Catholic vs. Bristol, 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Bristol High School. West Catholic’s only Blue Division loss was a 20-6 setback against undefeated Neumann-Goretti. The Burrs (7-3) haven’t lost since.
“In order for us to win, we just have to stick with what we’ve been doing and believe in what our coaches have been putting in for us,” said senior fullback/defensive end Keith Jenkins. “That includes playing fundamental football and being good sportsmen.”
Prediction: The Burrs are among the area’s most underrated programs, as suggested by a convincing 30-6 success.
District 1/12 Class 2A Sub-regional: Strawberry Mansion vs. Neumann-Goretti, 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at the South Philadelphia Supersite. The Blue Division champion Saints (8-0) usually won by routs but survived two nail-biters the past two weeks, 22-21 over Cardinal O’Hara and 20-13 over Conwell-Egan.
Prediction: This contest is more of the former, as the Saints march to a 37-12 victory.
John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.