(Videos/Photos by: Donna Eckert, Zamani Feelings, Kathy Leister, James Williamson & Mark Zimmaro. Video Edits by: Mark Zimmaro & James Williamson)
Preview by: John Knebels
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division is much smaller than its Blue Division counterpart, but that’s not why there is such limited drama.
When you have a program that has made winning league titles and state championships an annual event like St. Joseph’s Prep, it’s difficult to anticipate much future nail biting.
However, with a very much-improved La Salle and an always-rugged Archbishop Wood in the hunt, along with proud squads from Father Judge and Roman Catholic in the mix, perhaps the Red Division will ultimately produce its share of headlines.
Below are the Red Division inhabitants in alphabetical order.
Early-season contests: Blanked Neshaminy, 37-0; defeated Neumann-Goretti, 28-6.
Early stats: In win over Neshaminy, Andrew McHugh caught three touchdown passes from Trey Holsman and added two interceptions on defense . . . In victory over N-G, Ricardo Delgado punched in three rushing touchdowns.
Quotable: Andrew McHugh, senior (wide receiver, safety, kicker returner):
“I do not find it frustrating playing in a division with Prep and La Salle. I think we can compete with them, and playing up in (Class) 6A with the best talent is only making us better football players . . .
“Bishop McDevitt closing (in June of 2021) left a lot of fantastic athletes with a very difficult decision, and a lot of them decided to come to Warminster and become a Viking. Bringing in such a great amount of players at once and becoming a team as a whole is probably the most unique aspect of our team this year. Everyone glued together.”
Early-season contests: Tripled Lansdale Catholic, 21-7; overwhelmed Cardinal O’Hara, 42-7.
Early stats: In win over LC, defense held the Crusaders to 11 rushing yards on 18 attempts . . . The ground game of Mike VanHorn (24 carries, 104 yards, two touchdowns) and Jake Marquis (7-80-1) led the offense.
Quotable: Mike Conway, senior (middle linebacker, tight end):
“We played six games in the spring and went 4-2. We started around March 10 and finished April 16. It was still football, definitely not as hot in March and April as it is in this August heat, but we adjusted like nothing happened and didn’t miss a beat in the win over Lansdale Catholic. Actually it feels like football hasn’t stopped, which is not a bad thing.
“This team we have this year is so close off the field, making the chemistry on the field so much stronger. Everyone has the same drive and determination to make this season memorable since we were stripped of a PCL season last year.”
Early-season contests: Whitewashed Harrisburg’s Bishop McDevitt, 21-0; Edged Malvern Prep, 10-7, in Ocean City, N.J.
Early Stats: In win over McDevitt, Steve Davis rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Alan Paturzo passed for 155 yards and a touchdown pass. Ryan Moore caught six passes for 107 yards . . . In win over Malvern, Hayden Kennedy’s interception inside the final minute sealed the triumph.
Quotable: Chris Thompson, senior (middle linebacker):
“Not having Sam Brown and Abdul Carter for the first game was a challenge. Sam and Abdul are great players and play a huge part in our team. I believe the win showed everyone just how dangerous we are and will be when fully healthy.
“What makes this team so special is that we are all hungry. We all want to win, not only for ourselves, but for one another. Everyone works hard and pushes the person next to them to be a better player every day on and off the field.”
Quotable: Lorenzo Dow, junior (center/guard):
“I believe that our team is gonna go far this year because of the talent we have and the determination to go places. Our coach (Rick Prete) has taught us to be disciplined and that nothing is given to us; everything is earned.
“I also think that because of how hard we worked this off-season, we will be more prepared than other teams. During the off-season, we had some transfers come from Bishop McDevitt that have really made a difference for our team. Our goal this year is to win a state championship.”
Early-season contests: Bulldozed St. Mary’s Ryken of Maryland, 40-0.
Early Stats: Hawks will be trying for their fourth straight PIAA state title and seventh in nine years . . .Sophomore quarterback Samaj Jones threw two touchdown passes, and sophomore Khaseim Phillips rushed for two more . . . Defense swarmed start to finish. Up next:
Quotable 1: Dan Daly, senior (defensive end; defensive tackle):
“I would definitely say one unique thing has to be how much the team as a whole just wants to line up against an opposing uniform and play a full season of football. Because of our season being cut short last year, we are ready to get back into the swing of things.
“We had a good summer as a team along with camp, and we all are excited to get out there and just play the sport we love. It brings us all together as the family we are. It is definitely exciting to see new players get their chance to show what they can do for this team.”
Quotable 2: Josiah Trotter, junior (linebacker):
“It’s great to be with a new group of guys working for another state title and I think we can get the job done even with the adversity. The defense will be a strong part of our team, and we have some older guys and me who have been in the defense for a while, so I think if we keep working how we have, we can be a great defense.”