Who: Malvern Prep vs. Episcopal Academy
When: 7:00 Friday, October 25, 2019
Where: Episcopal Academy
Records: Episcopal (7-0, 2-0); Malvern (3-4, 2-0)
Most Recent Performance: Malvern Prep outslugged Penn Charter, 49-44; Episcopal edged Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 35-34.
Importance: These are the only two undefeated teams remaining. The winning squad would be in complete control of its destiny; realistically, the losing team’s best-case scenario would be finishing with a share of the league title.
All-Time Record: Malvern Prep leads, 49-17-3.
Malvern Notes: Though the Friars beat Penn Charter, they surrendered more than 500 yards from scrimmage. The previous week, they led Germantown Academy by only 19-14 heading into the fourth quarter . . . Malvern has allowed an average of 29.7 points per game . . . The Friars have more wins against Episcopal than any other school . . . Malvern is on a 12-game winning streak dating back to 2016 when they lost their league opener to? Yep. Episcopal, 37-34 . . . Junior QB Lonnie White is coming off a career-best performance (251 yards and four touchdowns rushing; one TD passing).
Episcopal Notes: After dominating five non-league opponents by a composite 151 to 54, the Churchmen have needed last-minute heroics to thwart Penn Charter and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy . . . The Churchmen are attempting an eight-game winning streak for the third time in the modern era. In both of those other seasons, they finished undefeated (9-0 in 1981 and 10-0 in 2012) . . . Senior QB Maurcus McDaniel has had a hand – or foot – in 23 touchdowns via throwing and rushing . . . Senior Matt Bush is a two-way force at running back and linebacker.
FRIAR CHAT: “Every game the rest of the season is a championship game for us,” said senior cornerback Caimin Hayes. “We are focused on being 1-0 every week. We know EA is a really good team, but the guys are excited to play. It will be a great game and we are ready for it.”
“All I can really say is just that we are pumped up,” said senior wide receiver Ryan Maguire. “EA is a great team, so it should be really fun. However, we are going to continue to play our ball and just keep chopping.”
CHURCHMEN CHAT: “I’m really excited for this game,” said senior running back/linebacker Matt Bush. “We have a great opportunity to play a really good team, and I know that my teammates and I are going to give everything we have this week. I think it should be an exciting game to watch. Every Inter-Ac game is super important, but there is just something a little bit different when playing a defending champ. Malvern has won it for a while now, and it really encourages us to focus more.”
“I believe this is the game of the year,” said junior receiver/defensive back Malcolm Folk.
“You have two great undefeated teams going against each other Friday night. As usual, Malvern is loaded with a lot of great talent, so this will be a hard-fought game for us. But our EA team this year is one of the most special teams I’ve ever played on, and I think our mix of talent and heart on both sides of the ball is a problem for any team.”
Prediction: Always difficult to pick against a perennial winner like Malvern. In this situation, however, Episcopal has played with a major chip on its shoulder. When the Churchmen have needed to step up on defense, they have made stops. Need a last-minute, leaping touchdown to beat Penn Charter? No problem. Go for one to tie Springside Chestnut Hill with 22 seconds left? Nah. Let’s just go for two . . . and make it. Home field will help the Churchmen, who, after a slow start, will rally for a 34-30 victory.
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)