Photos: Lennie Malmgren, Benji Rawson, James Quinn & Krystal Williams
By: Marc Narducci
The Inter-Ac enters the final week of action with multiple championship scenarios. One known fact is that Malvern Prep (4-0) has won at least a share of the title, but two other teams remain in contention.
Here’s one wild guess – Malvern Prep isn’t in a sharing mood.
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (3-1) would earn a share of the title with a victory over Malvern Prep. Haverford School (3-1) needs to beat Episcopal Academy and have Springside Chestnut Hill beat Malvern Prep, to force a three-way tie.
We’re also guessing it won’t be hard for Haverford School to root against Malvern Prep.
So much drama in a five-week league schedule that flies by. Sit back and enjoy our regular season finale version of the Inter-Ac Pick-6, in a league where neither the drama nor talent is lacking.
Some high school students like to make recruiting into a theatrical event. Malvern Prep senior Peter Jones was the opposite.
He really wanted to low key the recruiting process as much as possible and that is how it turned out for the 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle.
Malvern Prep senior Peter Jones will be playing at Notre Dame next season - Photo courtesy of Malvern Prep Football
Of course, one can only low-key it so much since there was no shortage of national power suitors.
Jones knew what he wanted in recruiting and visited just two schools, Notre Dame and Penn State. During the summer prior to his junior year, he made a commitment to Notre Dame.
It seemed so long ago, but now he is preparing for his final high school game and soon after will be headed to Notre Dame in January. He is graduating early and attending the winter session at Notre Dame.
Jones didn’t want to take recruiting visits just to earn a free trip. He was very focused and had definite game plan.
“I didn’t want to open things up too much and I knew what I was looking for,” Jones said. “So I focused on a few specific schools.”
When Notre Dame suggested he become an early enrollee, he saw the benefits and made his decision.
“They mentioned to me that they thought I would benefit from enrolling early,” he said. “It is an opportunity to get a jump start, not just football but adjusting to college life and being a college student.”
He wasn’t overly stressed out by the recruiting process. Jones knew what he wanted, stuck to his game plan and got the desired result.
“Recruiting was very eventful, a really fun experience,” said Jones, who is looking to major in the exercise science field. “I wanted to focus on things I wanted to and didn’t want to waste any time.”
Senior Peter Jones #77 takes his stance alongside Malvern's powerful offensive line - PSD Photo by Lennie Malmgren
He has been to the campus for two football games, against Marshall last year and Ohio State this season.
“It is such a great environment, and I am really looking forward to being part of the program,” he said.
Jones split time as a freshman and has been a full-time starter since his sophomore year. As a sophomore, Malvern Prep won the Inter-Ac. Last year, the Friars went 3-2 in Inter-Ac play, losing the two games to champion Haverford School and Episcopal Academy by a total of nine points.
At 4-0 the Friars have clinched at least a tie for this year’s title and as mentioned above, will be the outright champ with a win over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
“Those two losses last year were big motivators, we circled those games,” he said. “Now we hope to win this final game.”
And regardless of the result, it’s on to Notre Dame.
Malvern Prep earned a share of the title with a 38-10 win over Germantown Academy. Junor Zade Johnson had an interception for the third straight game. Ben Kumpon and Bernard Blakey each had a team-high nine tackles.
Junior Andrew Pellicciotta had a monster performance, six carries for 184 yards and two touchdowns. He scored on TD runs of 80 and 72 yards. QB Skyler Smith scored on a 50-yard run.
Next: Saturday at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 1 p.m.
Led by senior RB-LB Ohifame Ijeboi, Penn Charter played it best Inter-Ac game of the season. The Quakers lost 17-7 to defending champion Haverford School but there were many positives, beginning with Ijeboi, the Minnesota commit.
Against Haverford School, Ijeboi rushed for 148 yards and a TD on 20 carries. For the season he has rushed for 793 yards and seven touchdowns on 134 carries (5.9 avg.).
Coach Tom Coyle had said that he was hoping his team could create turnovers on D, something that wasn’t done the first three Inter-Ac games.
Against Haverford School, Ijeboi recovered a fumble and sophomore Matt Furda made an impressive end zone interception.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my guys, we were a little undersized up front, especially on defense and we created two turnovers and there were two other balls on the ground that we didn’t get,” Coyle said.
Penn Charter senior RB-LB Ohifame Ijeboi #6 - PSD Photo by Krystal Williams
And now it is on to the oldest continuous rivalry in the country, Saturday’s home game against Germantown Academy.
The series began in 1887, just a few years before this old-time reporter started covering high school football.
Penn Charter leads the series 87-39-11.
“We have to wash that last game away,” Coyle said about the Haverford School loss. “Now we have to get ready to play one of the greatest high school rivalries in the country.”
Next: Saturday vs. Germantown Academy, 1:30
Coach Rick Knox is ecstatic that his Springside Chestnut Hill Academy team will be vying for a title in the final game of the season.
The Blue Devils will host Malvern Prep for a chance to share the Inter-Ac title.
As stated above, Malvern (4-0) has already earned a share and now SCH earned the chance to play for the title with last week’s 24-21 victory over Episcopal Academy.
Never mind that Malvern is the favorite, remember on any given Saturday…
“Before the season if you told me we would get the chance to play for a championship in our final game, I would take that in a heartbeat,” Knox said.
This was the second game that senior RB Jayden Sumpter returned from injury, and he was more like his old self, rushing for 117 yards and an 18-yard TD run on 27 carries.
Tyler Roberts had another strong all-around game. He caught six passes for 50 yards and a TD, rushed for 30 yards on six carries and added a team-high 10 tackles, along with one pass breakup.
Sounds like a pretty full day, but this is basically a typical performance for the SCH senior.
Junior Finn Whittle rushed for 39 yards and a TD on 10 carries and junior Alex Zeka kicked a 24-yard field goal, the first of the season for SCH.
QB Tommy Markey was sharp, completing 9 of 11 for 103 yards and a TD.
Now for SCH, it’s time to get down to business and work on attempting to earn a championship.
“As football players and coaches, you work for this all summer,” Knox said. “All summer long we trained to be in a situation like this and I give our kids a lot of credit.”
Next: Saturday vs. Malvern Prep, 1 p.m.
Haverford School beat Penn Charter, 17-7 on Saturday, but the players and coaches weren’t in a celebratory mood afterwards.
That is because standout senior RB Matt Brosko saw his season and high school career end when he suffered a broken leg in the first quarter.
“It breaks my heart,” Haverford School coach Brian Martin said. “He is a workhorse, doesn’t complain, just keeps going forward and loves playing for the team.”
Brosko is so respected by his teammates, that all they were thinking about after the game was him and not the hard-earned W.
“Even though we won, we were a little down,” Martin said.
Martin added that Brosko hopes to play college football and has drawn some Division III interest.
With sophomore RB Jaidyn Rivera injured, Martin used junior Semaj Lee, who had mostly been playing defense, to replace Brosko.
All Lee did was score two touchdowns.
“He stepped in and did a great job for us,” Martin said.
Now the Fords have an outside shot at the title. They need to beat Episcopal Academy and have Springside Chestnut Hill Academy beat Malvern Prep.
“This is a special week,” Martin said. “Records don’t’ matter in his series,” Martin said. “This will come down to heart and who wants to win more.”
Next: Saturday vs. Episcopal Academy, 1:30 p.m.
Episcopal Academy lost a 24-21 thriller to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy that came down to the last second.
The Churchmen were on the edge of being in field goal range, but not quite. They were on the SCH 30-yard line with about nine seconds left.
“We were looking for something like a 40-yard field goal attempt,” EA coach Todd Fairlie said.
Out of timeouts, Episcopal Academy was looking to complete a pass out of bounds, but it didn’t happen.
The Churchmen then completed a pass in bounds and time expired.
Episcopal lost senior QB Na’Rome Rayborn late in the game due to injury. Fairlie says he is hoping that Rayborn can return for the regular season finale against Haverford School.
In his place, sophomore Brody Garrison threw a 9-yard TD pass to Zeke Kane and led that final drive.
One of the bright spots for EA, according to Fairlie was the play of senior DL AJ Koukou, the Villanova commit.
“He was dominant,” Fairlie said.
Next: Saturday at Haverford School, 1:30 p.m.
A year ago, Tristan Machado set the single-season passing record at Germantown Academy with 2,054 yards. With one game to go, that mark is in jeopardy.
Sophomore Xavier Stearn is 174 yards away from breaking that record. Stearn has completed 164 of 265 passes (61%) for 1,881 yards and 19 touchdowns.
In last week’s 38-10 loss to Malvern Prep, he was 30-of-44 passing for 251 yards and a TD. Junior AJ Towsen added eight receptions for 72 yards and a score.
Towsen, is enjoying an impressive season, with 55 receptions for 674 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Now the Patriots will gear up for Saturday’s game at Penn Charter, in as stated above, the longest continuous high school rivalry in the country.
Germantown Academy sophomore QB Xavier Stearn #14 - PSD Photo by James Quinn
This is a game that has plenty of hoopla, but GA coach Matt Dence has a simple approach.
“It’s not about anything bigger than this, it’s about winning this week,” Dence said. “It’s a great important rivalry, 130 some years but it’s about beating these guys this week and we try not to make it bigger than that.”
Next: Saturday at Penn Charter, 1:30 p.m.
Malvern Prep 4-0, 8-1
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy 3-1, 8-1
Haverford School 3-1, 5-4
Episcopal Academy 2-2, 4-5
Germantown Academy 0-4, 4-4
Penn Charter 0-4, 3-5
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.