Photos: James Quinn, Josh Cotterell, Ryan Nix & Lennie Malmgren
BY MARC NARDUCCI
It’s hard to believe but the Inter-Ac schedule is down to its final two weeks. The veteran teams have benefited from their experience while the young squads hope the experience gained pays off in the future.
This week there were some fine individual performances, even on teams that didn’t come out on top. It was as usual, a week of big plays on both sides of the ball, including numerous key interceptions.
So here after Week 3, is our latest Pick 6 edition.
Attempting passes against the Malvern Prep defense tends to be an unpleasant experience. The Friars have a bunch of hungry players who last week were at their ball-hawking best.
In a 42-3 win over Penn Charter, the Friars had four interceptions.
The master thieves were Peri DiBartolomeo, Zade Johnson, Chris Lake and Owen Mears. The Friars aren’t just content to pick off the pass, they quickly go on the offensive.
Lake returned his interception 12 yards. Mears had a 33-yard return. Johnson, a 5-10, 180-pound junior, went to the extreme. He returned his interception 54 yards for a TD.
No wonder a Pick 6 article is beginning by talking about Malvern Prep.
“It felt good,” said Johnson, talking about his first career high school Pick 6. “I feel we are playing as a team and our motto is to be on the hunt.”
Malvern Prep (7-1) has intercepted 11 passes this season. Lake’s interception was his third, tying him for the team lead with Jake Bauer.
The Friars are 3-0 in the Inter-Ac, the only unbeaten team. Still, don’t look for the Friars to get too comfortable, just yet.
“It is one week at a time,” said Johnson, a junior who said he has received a scholarship offer from UMass. ‘We don’t want to get too complacent.”
Up next: Friday vs. Germantown Academy, 6 p.m.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) lost for the first time in eight games with last week’s 42-14 home defeat to Haverford School.
The biggest positive for the Blue Devils was the continued excellence of Tyler Roberts. The 5-10, 190-pound senior is listed as a wide receiver and a defensive back.
If only it were that simple.
He might line up almost anywhere on offense, including as a wildcat QB. Roberts also returns punts and kicks.
No word on whether he sells popcorn at halftime.
“He has been one of our best all-around players for the past three years,” SCH coach Rick Knox said.
Against Haverford School, Roberts had five receptions for 44 yards, had a team-high six tackles, along with two pass breakups, while also performing as a return man.
For the season he has 26 receptions for 358 yards and five touchdowns. Roberts has rushed for 151 yards and a TD on 21 carries. On D, he has recorded 42 tackles, one sack, one interception and six pass breakups.
Despite the final score, Saturday night’s game against Haverford School was a memorable experience. SCH rented lights and nighttime football was a big hit.
“It was awesome,” Knox said. “It was a huge crowd, and a great atmosphere for everybody.”
Up next: Friday at Episcopal Academy, 7 p.m.
Penn Charter junior LB Hugh Maley is listed at 5-9 and 140 pounds, but don’t be fooled by the measurables. He is a relentless tackler.
Even in last week’s 42-3 loss to Malvern Prep, Maley stood out. He made a team-high 10 tackles, including one on special teams.
“Hugh Maley played well, and he is always giving maximum effort,” Penn Charter coach Tom Coyle said. “He continues to make big plays.”
In seven games, Maley has a team-high 55 tackles, which includes 41 solos.
The second leading tackler is senior DB Zachary Curtin with 37. Three players are tied for third with 25 tackles, senior DL-LB Thomas Cordaro, junior DB Eian Kilpatrick and senior LB Ohifame Ijeboi.
Up next: Saturday at Haverford School, 2 p.m.
Penn Charter junior LB Hugh Maley #34 - PSD Photo by Lennie Malmgren
Senior Michael Cadden missed time earlier this year due to injury for Episcopal Academy, but he returned in time for the Inter-Ac season and his presence has made a major difference for the Churchmen.
“Having him come back has been huge for our team,” Episcopal Academy coach Todd Fairlie said.
Cadden missed a game and a half due to injury, but he is so vital to the team that it felt like more. He benefited from the fact that EA had a bye week, which gave him more time to get healthier.
Episcopal Academy senior Michael Cadden #20 - PSD Photo by Josh Cotterell
When watching Episcopal Academy play, Cadden could line up in a variety of positions, running back, wing back, even working in the slot. Wherever he is, big plays often follow.
“It definitely helps when you have a quarterback like Na’Rome Rayborn and an offensive line that was dominating,” Cadden said.
Rayborn is another player who missed time earlier in the year due to injury, but has found his groove. Against Germantown Academy he completed 12 of 18 for 235 yards, four touchdowns zero interceptions. He also rushed for 120 yards on just nine carries.
Cadden doesn’t get a break when the opponent has the ball since he is a key safety for the Churchmen. On D, he has recorded 18 tackles and two pass breakups.
His biggest contribution, however, is on offense. For the season he has rushed for 231 yards (5.3 avg.) and three touchdowns. Cadden also has 34 receptions for 489 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, he has accumulated 340 return yards. Cadden is averaging 150.3 all-purpose yards per game.
Running or catching, what does he prefer?
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “Whatever the team needs me to do.”
Since he missed some time and the fact that he is a senior, Cadden is savoring his final few weeks playing in the Inter-Ac.
“I definitely don’t take any moments for granted,” said Cadden, who plans to play college football. “Being injured and having the opportunity taken away from you, you cherish these moments with my guys and realize it’s some of the best moments you will ever have, playing football.”
Up next: Friday vs. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 7 p.m.
Germantown Academy lost 42-7 to a high-powered Episcopal Academy team, but one of the bright spots was the duo who connected for the Patriots lone TD.
Sophomore Xavier Stern hit classmate Michael McKee for a 24-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
This TD was kind of symbolic because the Patriots are among the younger teams not only in the Inter-Ac, but the entire area.
There are just seven seniors on the team.
Senior CJ Mersky is the lone senior starter on the offensive line.
“I am proud of our seniors,” GA coach Matt Dence said. “They are giving it everything they’ve got.”
Stern continues to grow as a QB.
“Xavier is doing a good job,” Dence said. “I am proud of how hard he is working, and he is always looking to improve.”
Up next: Friday at Malvern Prep, 6 p.m.
Following last week’s 42-14 win at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Haverford School coach Brian Martin had effusive praise for senior safety Ben McCarthy.
“Ben is the voice of our defense,” Martin said.
The 6-0, 190-pound McCarthy tried to downplay his role as one of the defensive leaders.
“It’s a group effort and we have a bunch of leaders on the field, whether they are new or returning starters,” he said.
McCarthy is one of the those returning starters, a vital cog on last year’s Inter-Ac League champion that went 10-0.
“It was pretty amazing,” McCarthy said about last season. “It’s not often you get a group of guys who play and have a season like that. It was a storybook season.”
Haverford School was hit hard by graduation, but the Fords have been showing great progress. They are 2-1 in the Inter-Ac, with the lone loss a 24-6 defeat to first place Malvern Prep.
McCarthy loves playing football and he is yet another senior savoring his final weeks in the Inter-Ac. That’s because he will attend Duke and play lacrosse. McCarthy is considered among the top face-off men in the country.
He loves lacrosse, but his passion for football is just as strong.
“I have been playing football most of my life and it is one of my favorite times of the year,” said McCarthy, who had a key interception last week’s win.
He said competing in football has helped him greatly in lacrosse and vice versa.
“The discipline of playing two sports, the discipline of workouts and keeping yourself healthy, is a big deal for both sports,” he said. “Football is a really demanding sport and a lot is asked of you and it has helped me greatly in lacrosse.”
In the win over SCH, there were several other standouts as well, including junior LB Kellen Gardner, who had eight tackles and a sack. RB Matt Brosko rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. QB Connor Scanlan rushed for 44 yards and a TD on six carries, while also completing 5 of 8 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Up next: Saturday vs. Penn Charter, 2 p.m.
Malvern Prep 3-0, 7-1
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy 2-1, 7-1
Haverford School 2-1, 4-4
Episcopal Academy 2-1, 4-4
Germantown Academy 0-3, 4-3
Penn Charter 0-3, 3-4
Special thanks to Ed “Huck” Palmer for Penn Charter and Malvern Prep stats, to Dan Moyer for Haverford School, Mike McNulty for Episcopal Academy and coaches Rick Knox and Matt Dence for SCH and Germantown Academy stats.