By Joseph Pawlikowski
Special to The CS&T
Archbishop Wood High School’s football team manhandled opponents all year with its size and running game. Last Friday in the state final, Thomas Jefferson gave them a taste of their own medicine.
Amidst freezing conditions at Hersheypark Stadium, Jefferson’s Jaguars won 34-7, making fewer mistakes than the Vikings, who turned the ball over four times. They were also able to contain Wood’s standout running back Sean Cunningham, holding him to just 34 yards on 12 carries.
Wood’s head coach Steve Devlin knew Jefferson would be tough competition. “We knew they had size and that we would have to battle. We still ran the ball well at times, we just didn’t take advantage of a few opportunities,” he said.
This was the first appearance for a Catholic League school in a state championship and despite the loss, Wood had an incredible season. The Vikings’ only regular season loss was to West Catholic, who also made an appearance in the state final in their respective Class AA spanision, but lost.
These Catholic League teams proved they could play among the best teams in the state, and Devlin was extremely proud of his team for that.
“The kids are absolute winners,” he said. “One game where we made a few mistakes certainly does not define our whole season.”
While Devlin expressed how proud he was of his team, he also regretted the missed opportunity to bring home a state championship for his seniors. “They are a big part of the program, and it is really a shame they can’t get another shot. They worked hard from day one and deserved to win this game,” he said.
The Vikings dug themselves a hole after fumbling the opening kickoff. Jefferson recovered the ball at Wood’s 26-yard line, and two plays later, they were up 7-0. Wood was in unfamiliar territory, having to play catch up throughout the entire game.
Quarterback Sean McCartney struggled, throwing three interceptions, but managed to run the ball fairly well and threw an outstanding 26-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Narisi to cut Jefferson’s lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Jefferson fumbled on the ensuing drive but was able to recover the ball. They proceeded to run downfield for another touchdown, making the score 21-7. Wood needed to answer but unfortunately went three-and-out, punting the ball back to Jefferson.
Jefferson scored again and it was 28-7, a difficult deficit to overcome for a running team like Wood.
Although the contest ended with a loss for Wood, the Vikings did a fine job of representing the Catholic League this season. In its first season of eligibility for state championship play, Wood proved the Catholic League’s elite can play with any team in the state, and that in itself is a great achievement.
Joseph Pawlikowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103