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FOOTBALL: Inter-Ac Preview – 6 Juggernauts Prepare for League Play on the Gridiron

By Marc Narducci Photos: Zamani Feelings, Zack Beavers, Mike Nance, 10/06/23, 5:45PM EDT


A Big 10 RB at Penn Charter, New QB at Haverford School, a Historic Evening at Germantown Academy

Photos/Videos: Zack Beavers, Colleen Claggett, Zamani Feelings, Mike Nance, Marc Narducci, Lou Rabito, Benji Rawson & Krystal Williams

By: Marc Narducci

The Inter-Ac is ready to begin league play, a five-week meat grinder of a schedule in one the most competitive leagues in the state.

The league season begins the weekend of Oct. 14 and five of the six teams have byes this week. The lone exception is Penn Charter, which completes its non-league schedule against Lawrenceville.

In another show of strength, Inter-Ac teams went 21-7 in non-league games this season, with the one left between Penn Charter and Lawrenceville.

“I think the Inter-Ac top to bottom is the best football league in Pennsylvania,” Germantown Academy coach Matt Dence said.

Remember that he said ‘top to bottom’

It really means that even the team on the bottom, usually is competitive and this season should be no different.

Here were the standings from last year, where Haverford School is the defending champ.

Haverford School 5-0, 10-0

Episcopal Academy 4-1, 9-1

Malvern Prep 3-2, 8-2

Germantown Academy 2-3, 7-3

Penn Charter 1-4, 5-5

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy 0-5, 4-6

Here is a look at all six schools...

Another Top Back at Penn Charter

Penn Charter is no stranger to producing top running backs. Just look at Edward Saydee, who has enjoyed a productive career at Temple.

Now the Quakers have one of the more dynamic backs in the entire Delaware Valley, Ohifame Ijeboi, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, who also plays in the secondary.

In the first three games for the 3-0 Quakers, Ijeboi has rushed for 322 yards (8.7 avg.) and four touchdowns. Ijeboi also has three receptions for 102 yards and two scores.

About three months ago Ijeboi made a verbal commitment to Minnesota of the Big 10. Ijeboi estimated that he had about 25 college scholarship offers.

“I knew about the school and their reputation for running the ball and developing lineman,” Ijeboi said in a phone interview when talking about Minnesota. “I had a great visit there and it really seemed like they wanted me, and I feel it will be a great fit.”

So is playing in the Big 10, which is a Big deal to the Penn Charter senior.

“I am really excited to be competing in one of the biggest conferences,” he said.

As for the recruiting process, Ijeboi was able to take everything in stride.

“Overall, it was fun,” he said. “A lot of times it can be overwhelming with calls and texts and people contacting you, but looking back, I appreciate the position I was in, and I wanted to make sure that I appreciated everything.”

WPC senior Ohifame Ijeboi #6 has rushed for 322 yards and four touchdowns so far this season - Photo by Zamani Feelings

Ohifame Ijeboi will be taking his talents to the Big 10 to play for Minnesota - Photo by Zamani Feelings

He said there is a deep understanding of how fortunate he is to have football help take care of his education.

“There are people who don’t have this chance,” said Ijeboi, who plans to major in MIS, management information systems. “I had the chance and was able to take it all in.”

WPC's offense is lead by sophomore quarterback Tom McGlinchey #8 - Photo by Zamani Feelings

Penn Charter’s most recent win was a 38-0 triumph at The Kiski School. The Quakers took a bus to Kiski School, located near Pittsburgh.

“I thought overall we played well in all aspects of the game,” Penn Charter coach Tom Coyle said.

The offense is guided by 6-6, 200-pound sophomore quarterback Tom McGlinchey. He has completed 21 of 40 passes for 339 yards and five touchdowns.

“We’re relatively young and a sophomore dominated team and Tom is getting better every day,” Coyle said.

Senior Zach Curtin, an Amherst commit, will be a key performer as a running back and a linebacker-defensive back.

Junior two-way lineman Steven Blaker (6-5, 255) will help on both sides of the ball.

Junior linebacker Hugh Maley leads the Quarters with 17 tackles while freshman defensive end AJ Bouie has a team-high six tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks.

Non-league results: 24-6 Peddie School; 22-0 Wyoming Seminary; 38-0 at the Kiski School.

Inter-Ac Opener: Oct. 14 vs. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 2 p.m.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

Another team that is young, the Blue Devils benefited by going 5-0 in non-league games. A team that was hurt by a lack of depth last year, has a deeper team. Veteran coach Rick Knox reports that 48 players are in the program. Last year there were just four seniors on the team. This season this is more of a veteran group, but there is still plenty of youth.

“We feel we have a more experienced and talented team,” Knox said. ‘We are entering Inter-Ac play with a lot of confidence.”

One of the team leaders will be senior OL Mitch Karp (6-6, 285), who is a Monmouth commit.

Senior RB Jayden Sumpter (5-9 185) is a true home run threat. He has enjoyed some big games. For instance, in a 57-21 win over the Hill School this season, he rushed for 282 yards and five touchdowns.

Knox feels Sumpter has been underrecruited and feels colleges have to look beyond his size.

“He isn’t very tall, but he is an electric runner,” Knox said.

Senior Tommy Markey is in his second season as the starting quarterback.

Two new key defensive starters are Finn Whittle and Charlie McFadden at cornerback.

SCH senior RB Jayden Sumpter #1 - PSD Photo by Colleen Claggett

SCH senior QB Tommy Markey #22 - PSD Photo by Lou Rabito

“Both have outdone what we thought they would give us right away,” Knox said. “We have played some really good quarterbacks and those two have fared well.”

Non-league results: 28-7 Lansdale Catholic (at Ocean City); 40-0 Blair Academy; 21-14 at Lincoln; 57-21 the Hill School; 14-3 Lawrenceville.

Inter-Ac opener: Oct. 14 at Penn Charter, 2 p.m.

Episcopal Academy

The Churchmen were champion Haverford School’s biggest challengers last year. They finished 4-1 with the only loss 21-19 to visiting Haverford School.

Like Haverford School, EA lost several key players due to graduation.

Still, the Churchmen will look to carry the momentum from their final non-league game, a 15-14 triumph at Blair Academy.

EA trailed 14-2 at halftime but scored in an 8-yard TD reception by Zeke Kane from Brody Garrison in the third quarter and then Garrison’s 1-yard QB sneak early in the fourth quarter completed the comeback.

“That game came down to the wire and hopefully it will give us some positive momentum heading into league play,” EA coach Todd Fairlie said.

Garrison is a 5-10, 160-pound sophomore, and he has been getting better each game, according to Fairlie.

One of this year’s leaders is senior defensive lineman AJ Koukou (6-1, 280) who is a Villanova commit. Another key player is senior WR-DL L’jazz Abdul-Malik (6-2, 210), an all-Inter-Ac player last season on defense.

The Churchmen have received great play from senior corners Chris Purnell and Dylan Jaszcz, who is a Penn State lacrosse commit.

Non-league results: 41-44 Cardinal Hayes NY; 14-30 Roman Catholic; 35-6 at the Hill School; 17-28 Pope John XXIII (NJ); 15-14 at Blair Academy.

Inter-Ac opener: Oct. 14 at Malvern Prep, 1 p.m.

Germantown Academy

Besides a 5-0 preseason, the Patriots also saw a first over the weekend – the initial night game at the high school. GA rented lights and the football team was lights-out in a 42-18 win over the Peddie School.

“It was definitely a Top 10 atmosphere in my 12 years here and the night atmosphere really jazzed up the kids,” GA coach Matt Dence said. “It was the first time we did it and it was really cool and an awesome experience.”

Also cool was sophomore QB Xavier Stearn (6-5, 215) who completed 21 of 29 for 234 yards, three touchdowns.

His top receiver was junior AJ Towsen, who had 11 receptions for 13 yards and two scores. In addition, senior Anthony Lara rushed for 133 yards and two TDs on 23 carries.

Through five games Stearn has completed 89-of-137 for 1177 yards and 16 touchdowns. Towsen has 36 receptions for 531 yards and eight scores.

Non-league scores: 50-28 vs. Simon Gratz at Ocean City; 45-21 at the Hill School; 31-20 vs. Archbishop Wood; 24-10 at Blair Academy; 42-18 Peddie School.

Inter-Ac opener: Oct. 14 vs. Haverford School, 1 p.m.

Malvern Prep

The Friars remain a major contender for the Inter-Ac after finishing in third place last year. The difference between third and first wasn’t very much. Malvern went 3-2, falling 6-0 to Haverford School and 14-11 to Episcopal Academy.

Malvern Prep’s top prospect is offensive lineman Peter Jones (6-6, 290), a Notre Dame commit. He is part of an impressive offensive line that includes two others who have made college commitments, Liam Horan (6-3, 275, Air Force) and Logan Demchyk (6-3, 285), who is headed to Harvard.

The Friars also have one of the top kicker/punters in Jack Ploszay, who is a Wake Forest commit. DE/TE Ennis Udo (6-1, 195) has committed to Brown, where he will play football and lacrosse.

#35 Ennis Udo will be playing football and lacrosse at Brown next season - PSD Photo by Lou Rabito

Malvern Prep tuned up for its Inter-Ac schedule with a 17-7 win over the Hun School of Princeton. The Friars overcame a 7-3 halftime deficit.

Fullback Jake Bauer scored on two short second half TD runs to improve the Friars to 4-1 in non-league games.

Junior Andrew Pellicciotta (5-11, 190) is a player who can hurt teams several ways. He lines up at slot receiver, and is also a threat carrying the ball.

“He is a do-it-all guy,” Malvern Prep head coach Dave Gueriera said. “He’s an explosive a player as we have had.”

Pellicciotta has rushed for 233 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and has 15 receptions for 162 yards and two scores.

In addition, QB Skyler Smith has completed 52 of 100 passes for 599 yards and five TDs.

Bauer at linebacker has been the defensive leader with team-highs in tackles (44) and interceptions (2).

The Friars prepared for the Inter-Ac season but not only playing a competitive non-conference schedule, but also participating in close games. All five games were decided by 10 or fewer points.

“I don’t think we played our best football yet,” Gueriera said. “There is no quit in our guys. We are happy, but not satisfied.”

That helps explain why Malvern Prep has enjoyed so much recent success, having won three of the previous five Inter-Ac titles.

Non-league scores: 13-7 La Salle (at Ocean City); 20-17 Delbarton School (NJ); 14-24 at Imhotep; 17-16 Rock Creek Christian Academy; 17-7 The Hun School (NJ).

Inter-Ac opener: Oct. 14 vs. Episcopal Academy, 1 p.m.

Haverford School

The Fords took their lumps during a 2-3 nonleague season, but they used the time to find a quarterback. Senior Connor Scanlan, a sort of newcomer to the position, earned the spot prior to the fourth non-conference game.

Haverford School senior QB Connor Scanlan #17 - PSD Photo by Mike Nance

This is Scanlan’s first year playing high school football. He is known for his work in baseball, where as a shortstop-third baseman, he earned a spot on the Carpenter Cup All-Star team for the Inter-Ac/Independent. He is also a Fairfield commit for baseball.

Before this year, Scanlan last played football in eighth grade. He says he has always been a quarterback.

“I just felt like high school football was just a great time to be around with everyone, it is so much of a brotherhood,” Scanlan said. “And I couldn’t graduate high school without playing at least one year of football.”

With Scanlan at controls, the Fords may be passing the ball more. 

Senior TE Sean Brodnik (6-4, 220), is an inviting target. He also plays defensive end.

As usual this will be typically tough Haverford School defense.

“(Cornerback) Ben McCarthy and (DL) Michael Barnes-Pace are the heart and soul of the defense,” said Haverford School coach Brian Martin.

The veteran Haverford School coach was grateful that the non-league schedule gave so many new starters a chance to gain experience before the Inter-Ac play begins.

“There have definitely been some growing pains,” Martin said. “We are just looking to keep building off our seniors that played last year and look for others to step up.”

As defending Inter-Ac champion, Haverford School head coach Brian Martin knows league play will be a battle - PSD Video by Marc Narducci

Non-league scores: 0-35 at Imhotep; 55-8 Academy Park; 18-38 at La Salle; 23-28 at Garnet Valley; 48-13 Upper Darby.

Inter-Ac opener: Oct. 14 at Germantown Academy, 1 p.m.


Special thanks to Ed ‘Huck’ Palmer for providing Penn Charter and Malvern Prep statistics.