Although Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School fell three victories short of winning a state title last year, the Friars proved themselves as one of Pennsylvania’s top Class 4A football programs.
Riding the wave of a season that included an 11-2 overall record, an undefeated Catholic League Blue Division championship, a District 12 crown, and a second-round trek in the PIAA state tournament, Bonner-Prendergast has begun the 2023 season in globetrotting fashion.
On Friday, August 25, the Friars will participate in the Global Ireland Football Tournament and face NFL Academy of the United Kingdom. The 3,000-mile journey to Dublin, Ireland, began on August 21.
To say the Friars players and coaches have been beyond psyched would be an understatement.
“I’m really excited for this trip because it’ll be my first time in Europe,” said senior center Kieran Farren, an alum of St. Dorothy’s grade school in Drexel Hill. “I’m honestly not really sure what to expect, but I’m sure it’ll be a great time for everyone involved.
“It definitely changed our preparation because we had to be able to get off the plane and adjust to the time difference and jet lag. And then once we get back, we have to get ready for the rest of the season.”
Bonner-Prendergast junior wide receiver Jalil Hall feels similarly.
Among the events he looks most forward to is attending the University of Notre Dame vs. the Naval Academy contest scheduled for Aug. 26.
“I love that we, out of all people, get this opportunity,” said Hall. “I’ve never been to Europe. In the beginning, it was just, ‘Wow, I get to go to Ireland!’ But now, especially after camp started, I was 100 percent focused on our game.”
According to B-P junior defensive back Mick Johnson, much of the overall experience would be dictated by how well the Friars perform overseas.
“I have never been out of the country actually, so I’m really excited for this,” said Johnson. “I really want to enjoy this as much as I can and also stay focused on the game.
“Hopefully, we can get back on the plane 1-0 and ready for the next challenge. I would enjoy my time in Europe more knowing that we handled our business while everyone back at home is watching.”
Senior tight end and punter Austin Cannon, a product of Ridley Park’s St. Madeline Parish, anxiously awaited not only playing football, but hopefully, uniting with part of his personal ancestry.
“For the majority of our team it’s the first time we will travel to a completely new environment to compete,” Cannon said. “That in and of itself takes a lot of planning and adjusting, especially with a time change as drastic as five hours. The plan is to take it day by day.
“I am looking forward to this trip very much. I am excited to play with my teammates in a whole other country. I have not been to Europe (Ireland) before. I have my whole other half of my family over there, and I’m excited to meet most of them for the first time.”
As the days quickly sped toward leaving the states, Cannon reminded himself to stay “calm, cool, and collected.”
“It’s just another game of football,” he said. “It’s my senior year, so I obviously want to win real bad and make this trip memorable.”
The person most responsible for the trip, which coincides with the school celebrating its 70th anniversary, was Bonner-Prendergast coach Jack Muldoon.
A 1975 Bonner graduate, Muldoon said he has no doubt that the school’s players, coaches, and families would leave a positive mark on Ireland start to finish.
“The lifeblood of Bonner, Prendie, and Bonner-Prendie for 70 years, and the generous support of our loyal alumni, has made this trip become a reality,” said Muldoon, last year’s PCL Blue Division Coach of the Year.
“Friars football is excited and privileged to represent Bonner and Prendie and the Philadelphia Catholic League.”
Watch the game via live stream for free at this link starting at 6:45 a.m. EST Friday, Aug. 25.
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