By: John Knebels
Photos: Patty Morgan
SPRINGFIELD, PA –On one sideline stood a Class 6A team, and on the other stood a Class 4A squad.
Easy math indicated that 6A Roman Catholic should have had its way with 4A Bonner-Prendergast. So much for easy math . . .
Behind a defense that surrendered fewer than 100 yards, an opportunistic offense that seized an early two-touchdown lead, and a special teams unit that helped keep Roman bottled up inside its own territory, Bonner-Prendergast opened the season with a convincing 21-0 triumph on October 17 at Cardinal O’Hara High School
While some analyzers might describe the Friars’ win as an upset because of the class disparity, you won’t find anyone on B-P in agreement.
“I think it means a bit more because we were kind of counted out,” said two-way headliner James Welde. “They were ‘expected’ to win just because they’re 6A, so it gave us a little chip on our shoulder.”
Judging by the one-sided outcome, perhaps Bonner-Prendergast should look for more shoulder chips moving forward. Then again, the Friars weren’t at all surprised that they emerged victorious
“I felt like we were ready, and having a lot of returning starters helped,” said Welde. “The most difficult part was really getting our bodies ready in such a short amount of time, but we really emphasized water and stretching throughout the week.”
The Friars scored on their first two possessions.
En route to 132 yards rushing, junior Mason Peterson opened the game – and season – on a 26-yard scoring run that gave Bonner-Prendergast a 7-0 lead.
In their next possession, the Friars doubled their lead when senior quarterback Kyle Lazer tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Welde.
The Lazer-Welde link lasted throughout the afternoon. The pair connected seven times for 112 yards. But Welde wasn’t Lazer’s only conduit. Senior Ibrahima Diallo snared three passes for 43 yards and a 24-yard touchdown that finished the scoring.
“I think we played great,” said Lazer. “Our defense this year is the top defense around, and I am certain about that. Offensively, we started out hot. James Welde is an awesome target I get to throw to. Even when he is covered, he is not; he will go up and make the catch. Ibrahima Diallo is another dude that will go up and get any ball I throw in his direction.”
With the victor now determined, the only thing left was to keep the Cahillites from breaking the shutout. After accumulating five sacks, nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and interceptions by both Diallo and senior Ayden Garnes, mission accomplished.
“Defensively, I think the goal is always to keep them off the board,” said Welde. “It’s definitely an accomplishment, but I don’t think we think that we have to; I just think a shutout is always the goal.
“I’d say in the fourth quarter when we know we are going to win, you turn your mindset to keeping them from scoring.”
As for Garnes, the free safety was all over the field. In addition to his pick, he came within a whisker of a second theft. He put the Cahillites in poor field position with a blinding tackle near the Roman 10-yard line.
Garnes also returned a punt to midfield, and he thwarted a probable Roman Catholic touchdown on a sideline hit when he was the last defender to beat.
“With the interception, we planned for everything on that play,” said Garnes. “I was just reading the routes. It was a fake screen. At halftime, we told ourselves it’s 0-0, and we just kept our foot on the gas.”
And then some.
(Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)