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FOOTBALL: Philadelphia Sports Digest's PICK 6 (Week of 9/27)

By John Knebels Photos: James Beaver & Mike Gray, 10/03/19, 12:15AM EDT


The “Pick Six” -  a turning point for a defensive unit, a wrench for the offense. PSD’s “Pick Six” highlights personal achievements, team highlights and unbiased turning points of our weekly Philadelphia Catholic League teams in their previously played league games. 

By: John Knebels

Pick One

Roman Catholic had never defeated Archbishop Wood in football. 

Dating back to 1965, the Cahillites were 0-8 against the Vikings.

On Saturday night in Conshohocken, that changed. As the school honored the 1999 Roman squad that seized the Catholic League championship, junior quarterback Jayden Pope flung three touchdown passes to senior Malachi Harris, and the Cahillites shocked the Vikings, 20-6, in a Catholic League Red Division opener.

Roman Catholic made program history by defeating Archbishop Wood 20-6 on Saturday, Sept. 28 - PSD Photo

Roman Catholic head coach Rick Prete was proud of his seniors for achieving this notable victory - PSD Photo

I think the performance speaks volumes to the work our young men and coaching staff have put forth this entire year,” said first-year coach Rick Prete. “I think a win like that one gives our seniors a lot to be proud about, and our younger guys something to hang their hat on and build from.

“However, this win does not signify satisfaction and will make us work even harder, because our young men are experiencing what winning a big game feels like. Lastly, we’d like to thank the school staff and administration for all of their support.”

Harris described the amped-up Roman crowd as “the biggest I’ve seen in all four of my years at Roman. They were great. The atmosphere was unreal.”

Pope said he and his teammates felt “very prepared” before kickoff.

Pope said he and his teammates felt “very prepared” before kickoff.

It was a great game,” said Pope, who completed 12 or 21 passes for 145 yards. “As a team, we were mentality and physically ready for them, and to do such a thing on an alumni night was great. We played as a team and got a great team win.

“Before every game, Coach Prete always makes sure we’re in the right position to succeed. As a team, we were just in the right position.”

Pick Two

Competing against neighborhood rival Archbishop RyanFather Judge desperately needed a victory Saturday night at Northeast High. The Crusaders had dropped four of five non-league games and lost to the Raiders the past two years, including a 38-20 decision last fall.  

After building a 21-7 halftime lead, Judge’s defense held the Raiders to a fourth-quarter field goal and emerged with a 24-10 victory. The

Crusaders now lead the all-time series, 28-27-3.

“It was a collective performance from the whole team,” said Judge sophomore quarterback Mike Van Horn. “It was a much needed win, and we want to keep it up going forward.”

Van Horn completed eight passes for 216 yards and a touchdown to senior Dan Foy (three catches for 110 yards). Senior Dameir Johnson rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Archbishop Ryan vs. Father Judge - PSD Photos by Mike Gray

“The victory over Ryan was great for our school and our team over a tough rival,” said Foy. “It gives us great momentum for the rest of our season.”

Senior receiver and safety Shane McGovern agrees.

“The win was big for us,” said McGovern. “That game is always going to be an important game, but it was good because it was our first Catholic League game and we came out fired up and ready to go.”

Pick Three

After St. Joseph’s Prep overwhelmed La Salle, 44-13, on Saturday night, first-year coach Tim Roken stood before his troops and praised the offensive line. The Hawks had amassed a staggering 550 yards from scrimmage, including 282 on the ground on 35 carries.

Roken then presented the game ball to the guards, tackles, and center who had kept junior quarterback Kyle McCord (13 of 19, 268 yards, three touchdowns) upright and forged openings for senior Kolbe Burrell (14 for 124, two touchdowns) and sophomore Josh Barlow (8 for 112, 80-yard touchdown haul).

In turn, the O-line did a handoff of its own, transferring the game ball honors to senior RJ McKee. As a junior, McKee was the Prep’s starting center, but on the second play of the first game, he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament on a no-contact play. 

Fully rehabbed, McKee was about to take over at center this season. Incredibly, during a team scrimmage, he hyperextended his left knee and tore his left anterior cruciate ligament. 

Injured offensive lineman RJ McKee was given the game ball by his teammates:

As he leaned on a crutch while Prep players, coaches, and fans celebrated, McKee appeared equally as ecstatic as his teammates. 

“There’s no place I’d rather be tonight,” said McKee. “We do everything together. It’s a brotherhood. It’s awesome. We work so hard. It’s great. They’re just my brothers.”

McKee then reflected on what he has learned during these extremely unfair ordeals. 

“Last year it was a lot tougher because it was my first time,” said McKee. “I was starting and everything, and to have everything taken away like that, it kind of really puts things in perspective for you.” 

Willing to do whatever his teammates and coaches need, McKee has developed a close bond with junior Max Fisher, who inherited McKee’s spot in the middle of the line.

“Fish is like my younger brother,” said McKee. “He’s the best. There’s no one I’d rather have playing center than him. He’s a great kid. He’s willing to learn. He’s super coachable, smart, and he gets it done in the classroom.

“Even though I’m not playing, I know I worked my butt in camp every time. Even though I’m not playing, I still feel like I have my role on the team.”

His Prep brothers obviously concur.

Pick Four

After the one-sided win, several Prep players were asked for their assessments of . . .

The physical wars going on in the trenches: 

Junior center Max Fisher– “It’s super physical, especially on the front line. I get thrown around a lot, but I love it. Running in a touchdown and celebrating with your brothers . . . there’s nothing better.”

  The hype of playing rival La Salle after three rugged non-league games against nationally recognized competition:

SJP vs. La Salle - PSD Photos by James Beaver:

Senior wide receiver and defensive back Anthony Rightley– “It’s important because it’s the next game. We treat every game as the same, and that’s how we got this done.”

   The benefit of traveling to various locales to face rugged opposition:

Senior left guard Matt McGeary– “It helps a lot. The speed of the game kind of slows down a little bit. You see a lot of opponents. It helps you see a lot of looks, all types of formations and stunts and stuff.”

Pick Five

Bonner-Prendergast exploded for six touchdowns in a 40-14 win over Lansdale Catholic Friday night. Breaking open a tight 18-14 lead midway through the third quarter with touchdowns on two consecutive possessions, the Friars (4-1, 2-1) rode the arm of junior quarterback Kyle Lazer (11 for 15, 128 yards, four touchdowns), hands of junior James Welde (nine catches, 112 yards, three touchdowns), and the legs of sophomore Mason Peterson (14 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown) to victory.

Sitting among the highly impressed crowd were members of Msgr. Bonner’s Class of 1969.

At halftime, the 1968 Southern Division champion Friars were honored. 

Doing the public address announcing was Ken Kropp, a 1969 Msgr. Bonner alum and longtime teacher who described the experience as one of “pure joy and fun.”

The Bonner-Prendergast players had a pretty fun time, too.  

“We were very prepared,” said Welde. “Our defense kept us in a lot of games, so it was nice to repay the favor.

“I had a slow start to the season. Other people were clicking, and I finally got it going. It felt great, and maybe now that’ll open up stuff for our offense even more. It’s hard to lose when you put up 40 points.” 

Lazer felt relieved when the Friars started to find their groove.

At halftime, the Friars honored their prestigious football class of 1969 - photo courtesy of MBAP Athletics

MBAP vs. Lansdale Catholic - Photos courtesy of MBAP Athletics

“Our offense was kind of struggling and our defense has been really getting us wins,” said Lazer. “But we finally put everything together and everyone was on the same page. Of course, having a 6-foot-3 wide receiver being able to get up and get the ball like James Welde helps a lot.

“We have a lot of weapons on offense, and some games it’s some people and other games others, but definitely, James and I were on the same page. A big night that our team needed; a big statement game as well.”

Pick Six

Conwell-Egan scored the first 10. Visiting Archbishop Carroll responded with 27 unanswered points scored by four different players and took a commanding 27-10 lead into Friday night’s fourth quarter. The defending Blue Division champion Eagles countered with 13 points.

Finally, the clocked showed zeroes, and Carroll was finally able to exhale with a 27-23 victory and a perfect 3-0 record in division.

The Patriots will face undefeated Neumann-Goretti (6-0, 3-0) on Saturday.

“We want to go 1-0 each week and keep our Catholic League record unblemished,” said Carroll coach Kyle Detweiler. “Ideally we don’t want to be trailing at halftime and wait until the third quarter to start playing our game, but it’s the third week in a row now where we did that, and we are fortunate to get the win.”


(Contact John Knebels at or on Twitter @johnknebels.)