Two weeks into the Catholic League Blue Division football season and several teams and numerous players are off to a great start.
For those who have struggled, the good news is that division games — the ones that determine the postseason — won’t begin until the weekend of Sept. 14.
Thanks to Archbishop Carroll’s switching divisions, the smaller-enrollment Blue swelled from seven teams to eight while the larger-enrollment Red shrunk from seven to six. So far, Carroll has given its new competition reason for concern.
Buoyed by the return of five key components on both offense and defense, the Pats are 2-0 after defeating Olney, 42-8, and Seton Hall Prep (N.J.), 54-28. In the former, new coach Kyle Detweiler notched his first victory. Junior Russel Minor-Shaw threw three touchdown passes, a pair to senior Koran Butler. Senior Josh Bowman rushed for two scores, and senior Zach Butler collected a career-best two interceptions.
Against Seton Hall, Bowman (141 yards, TD) joined senior Raphael Manning (10 carries, 113 yards, TD) and sophomore Brennan Robinson (4 carries for 95 yards, three combined TDs) for an unstoppable rushing display.
Conwell-Egan returns the division’s Most Valuable Player, Boston College-bound senior running back Patrick Garwo. After establishing a school rushing with 1,879 yards and 27 total touchdowns last fall, Garwo led the Eagles to a 38-20, season opening win over Roman Catholic, and a 22-0 victory over Salem (N.J.).
Garwo gained 178 yards on only 15 carries and scored twice in the opener. A week later, he added 103 yards and a TD in game two.
“We’re off to a good start,” said Garwo. “We have to keep getting better.”
West Catholic came up one win short of a division championship last year, finishing 5-1. The Burrs were edged by Pottsgrove, 15-14, in their opener, and bounced back for an 18-16 win over Paramus Catholic (N.J.).
Returning All-Catholics include senior running back Jacir Savoy (125 yards and two TDs against Paramus), senior wide receiver Seth Degree, junior center Rickquan Rivera, and senior linebacker Tre Johnson.
Cardinal O’Hara lost three division games by a composite 10 points. The Lions defeated Hudson Catholic (N.J.) in its opener, 14-6, relying on strong defensive efforts from, among others, senior Louis Perri and junior John Sheffer.
Senior quarterback Luke Sprague relies on a strong receiving corps paced by All-Catholic senior Chris Kirby (23 catches for 253 yards and six total TDs last year), senior Derrick Patrick (15 for 219, two touchdowns), and senior Max Much (9 for 128, TD).
Coming off a remarkable season highlighted by an 11-1 record, 6-0 romp through the division, and a trip to the state quarterfinals, Neumann-Goretti graduated every starter except three. The Saints will rebuild behind sophomore defensive back Tysheem Johnson, one of the area’s top talents who intercepted eight passes last year, and senior Tre’Sean Bouie (16 passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns last fall).
Lansdale Catholic is an underclassmen-laden squad that looks to challenge for a title.
Junior Danny Dutkiewicz (1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns) rushed for 97 yards and a TD in a 35-21 loss to Penn Charter.
A returning All-Catholic defensive back, Dutkiewicz also leads the way on defense.
“Playing for two or three years really helps because we all know what each other is capable of doing,” said Dutkiewicz. “This year is going to be a good one.”
Bishop McDevitt returns All-Catholic defensive back junior Lonnie Rice, who will also take over the reins at quarterback.
In a 42-7 win over Central, the Lancers received a two-touchdown, 152-yard performance from sophomore running back Jon-Luke Peaker. Sophomore Joachim McElroy scored on a rushing touchdown and also returned a punt for a score; Rice tallied twice via short runs. The Lancers dropped a 34-27 decision to Cheltenham despite solid performances by Rice (160 yards and three TDs on 27 carries) and Peaker (16 carries for 145 yards).
Bonner-Prendergast struggled in its 19-7 loss to rival Upper Darby, but rallied to overwhelm KIPP DuBois, 49-0, as junior Charles Ingram rushed for 101 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Next week, look for our preview of Catholic League Red Division football.
John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com.
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