Who: Cardinal O’Hara at Archbishop Ryan
When: 7 PM Saturday, October 9
Where: Northeast High School
Records: Cardinal O’Hara 3-1, 3-0; Archbishop Ryan 3-3, 2-1
Most Recent Performance: O’Hara won by forfeit over West Catholic. The previous week, the Lions blanked Lansdale Catholic, 21-0; Archbishop Ryan toppled Lansdale Catholic, 34-21.
Importance: While much can still happen in the Catholic League Blue Division (the champion will be determined by best regular season record), arguably more importance centers around the PIAA Class 4A alignment, where both of these teams are joined by Bonner-Prendergast. If either of the trio can defeat both 4A opponents, that team would represent the Catholic League in the Class 4A District 12 final, with the winner advancing to the PIAA state playoffs.
All-Time Record: Cardinal O’Hara leads, 22-8.
Cardinal O’Hara Notes: Excluding the recent win by forfeit, the Lions have outscored their last two opponents by 38-7 . . . Senior Dan McPhillips (46 carries, 203 yards) heads the running game. Senior quarterback Jacob Carbin’s favorite target is senior Frank Didio, who has caught all three of Carbin’s touchdowns . . . On defense, senior Mark Zecca and juniorJohn Shelton lead in tackles. Didio returned an interception for a score.
Archbishop Ryan Notes: The red-hot Raiders have registered 66 points in their past two games and are coming off a record-setting victory over Lansdale Catholic in which senior quarterback Rob McConnell fired a school-best five touchdowns and senior Joe Mastrangelo tied a school mark with three TD grabs . . . Mastrangelo’s 10 receptions have averaged 36 yards apiece . . . Junior Aidan Clancy’s 501 rushing yards on 92 carries have helped keep opposing defenses respecting the run . . . On defense, senior outside linebacker Arturo Brunelli leads in solo tackles and assisted tackles, and he has forced two fumbles that were recovered by freshman linebacker Gavin McConnell, who is second on the team in tackles . . . Mastrangelo has grabbed two of the Raiders’ six team interceptions, returning one to the end zone. For the season, Mastrangelo’s six TDs have included four receptions, an interception, and a kickoff return.
“Our coach stresses the importance of going 1-0 every week, and we need to play physical and disciplined football,” said junior left tackle Xavier Lozowicki. “This is going to be a tough matchup with us being in the same league. Hopefully we get out there and do business.
“Every league game is important if we want to be successful this year. We would like to extend our season into the 4A playoffs, and we can’t do that unless we can go out and get a win against a good Ryan team.”
“We’re heading into this week’s game feeling confident since we just won back-to-back games,” said senior safety Joe Mastrangelo.
“But we need to stay focused during practice this week and get it done Saturday night. It’s our Homecoming, so it’s definitely an important game. We hate losing more than we love winning, so we don’t expect anything less.”
Prediction: Led by its aggressive defense, Cardinal O’Hara is one of the Blue Division’s two undefeated teams. In Archbishop Ryan’s lone division defeat, the Raiders scored first before succumbing to juggernaut Neumann-Goretti before losing, 14-7 . . . O’Hara’s victory by forfeit could work one of two ways. Either the rested Lions emerge refreshed, or they come out a tad tepid having not played in two weeks . . . Conversely, the Raiders have played twice as many on-field games and have that hungry “look” about them, as though they can’t wait to take on any opponent anywhere . . . In early September, O’Hara was overwhelmed by Father Judge, 42-7, and nine days later, Ryan defeated that same Father Judge squad, 21-14 . . . With “big plays” a factor, Archbishop Ryan will tame the Lions, 34-13.
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)