By: John Knebels
Photos: Patty Morgan
MALVERN, PA – In the spirit of the holiday season, Malvern Prep’s football program in indeed thankful for their season despite only having played four games.
And when taking various anomalies into consideration, it’s difficult to argue that no edition of Friars has ever been more remarkable.
Through a coronavirus that threatened to cancel its season before a single snap, to being stonewalled by an Inter-Academic League they have befuddled with 31 championships since 1972, the Friars persevered against rugged non-league competition.
“None our games were promised, and that made us all play harder for each other knowing that each game could be the last one,” said Malvern junior quarterback Jack Capaldi. “We also have a great group of seniors who have been leading this team all year.”
That senior leadership – and contributions throughout the lineup – was demonstrated in what ended up being Malvern’s season finale on November 14, as Malvern doubled visiting Catholic League toughie and last year’s PIAA Class 5A champion Archbishop Wood, 28-14. The Friars thus finished undefeated at 4-0; if they had played a full season, it is doubtful that any team on its original schedule would have prevented them from finishing with a perfect record.
Once again, Malvern’s defense made life miserable for their opponent, intercepting three passes and helping outscore the Vikings (3-3) by 28-7 after trailing by a touchdown late in the second quarter.
In addition to thefts by junior D’Angelo Stocker and senior Kellen Mathias, senior Jake Brownley provided a 42-yard interception touchdown return in the third quarter that increased Malvern’s lead to 21-7.
“After we went undefeated two years ago and then had the year we had last year, I think people looked at Malvern Football as a fluke,” said Brownley. “This senior class, with the exception of a few kids, is very underrated and not well known. To go out there and win the way we are winning it is very impressive. I know the team is not surprised about the outcome of these games, but we definitely enjoy seeing everyone else be surprised.”
Malvern senior standout Lonnie White added yet another gold star to his amazing resume. In addition to touchdown runs of 60 and two yards, White accrued 146 yards on only eight touches. Junior Isaiah Wright also scored for the Friars, whose scheduled contest against Downingtown East this coming Friday was cancelled.
Brownley assessed the uniqueness of this Malvern Prep squad.
“It’s a real love for one another that everyone on the team has,” said Brownley, who next year will play lacrosse at Harvard University. “Because of this, we just have fun. No moment is too big or little for us. We treat every game the same.
“We knew that Wood would be a tough challenge, but we went into it loose, confident, and excited. Besides our great practices, I think these are the reasons why we keep winning.”
(Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)