Tuesday, September 4, 2012

H.S. FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Plenty of surprises on opening night

Lancaster Catholic RB Roman Clay
(Photo courtesy Lancaster Online)
By Don Seeley

Opening week of the high school football season always produces a lot of surprises, as well as a lot of incredible individual plays and games that raise the eyebrows. And 2012 – or last weekend – sure had its share.
Problem is, where does one begin?
As far as surprises, it would be hard to imagine anything topping what one group of Panthers did to another group of Panthers, or how Imhotep Charter stomped on Strath Haven, 68-13. The District 12-AA Panthers ran for 383 yards and amassed 492 overall in dealing the District 1-AAA Panthers the worst loss in their otherwise storied program’s history that includes eight district and two state championships.
The previous mark for Strath Haven – formed in 1984 with the merger of Nether Providence and Swarthmore high schools – was a 47-0 setback to Ridley in 1988.

Another surprise was how three-time defending champion Clairton, riding the longest winning streak in the nation (48 straight wins), had to recover an onsides kick and run out the clock in a 22-20 thriller over Chartiers-Houston, which hadn’t come anywhere close to beating Clairton in four previous meetings. The Bears haven’t lost since their season-opener in 2009, and hadn’t really been tested since … or at least until last Friday night out in Washington County. Another unbeaten run this season would lead to the Bears’ breaking C.B. West’s state-record of 59 straight wins.
As far as big plays and games, it would be hard to imagine anyone topping what Trinity’s Danny Jackson, Lancaster Catholic’s Roman Clay, Glendale’s Doug Twigg and Eastern York’s Alex Cooley did over the weekend.
Jackson returned a punt 46 yards for a touchdown, brought back a kickoff 99 yards for another, and took an interception back 53 for a third score to help the Shamrocks defeat District 3 rival Delone Catholic.
Also out in District 3, Clay – who a year ago rewrote his school’s record brook with 1,899 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns – debuted Friday with a district-record 442 yards and six touchdowns in the defending state champion Shamrocks’ 41-33 win over Dallastown. Clay, with 3,885 career yards and 58 touchdowns, and his teammates will be at Governor Mifflin this Friday.
Twigg did his share of work on defense by coming up with four interceptions for Glendale. But it wasn’t quite enough as the Vikings lost to Northern Bedford, 20-13.
Cooley could sure relate to Twigg’s disappointment. He ran for 337 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-36 loss to Columbia.

Bad Knight: No. 5 ranked North Penn may or may not drop a notch or two in the state rankings after falling to No. 2 La Salle College High School, 20-7, in the teams’ annual showcase game.
Making a point: The most points (83) scored in the entire state last week were produced in Penncrest’s 48-35 win over Upper Merion.
Defenseless: Three of the four highest-scoring District 1 games last weekend involved Pioneer Athletic Conference teams – Upper Perkiomen (51-20 loss to Quakertown); Owen J. Roberts (49-21 loss to Conestoga); and Boyertown (48-26 loss to C.B. East).
On target: Downingtown East’s Kyle Lauletta was one of four quarterbacks in the state to throw for more than 300 yards. Lauletta passed for 301 in the No. 9 ranked Cougars’ 42-18 blitz of Bonner.

New era: Lansdale Catholic, which left the Pioneer Athletic Conference following the 2007 season and became a member of District 12, gave new head coach Tom Kirk his first win – 27-26 over Prep Charter down at Ocean City High School in N.J. It was the first time in 45 years that LC played a football game without the legendary Jim Algeo calling the shots from the sidelines. … Speaking of District 12, three of five games involving district schools were decided by one point last Saturday. The difference in all five games was only a combined 13 points.
Old era: Well, what better two words to describe the return of George Curry to the Berwick sidelines. Because of the late departure of its previous coach, the 68-year-old Curry – who guided the Bulldogs to four straight AAA state titles (1994-97) and five overall, and owned a state-record 413 career wins before retiring a couple of years ago – stepped in as the interim coach this season. He re-debuted with a 48-21 rout of Crestwood for win No. 414. Curry is now coaching his third generation of players at Berwick, including his grandson C.J. Curry, the starting quarterback.
Top Ten: Three of the state’s four top-ranked teams opened with wins (AA’s Aliquippa played Ambridge on Monday night). Clairton held on as previously mentioned; AAA’s Archbishop Wood blasted Bensalem, 44-7; and AAAA’s Central Dauphin defeated Manheim Township, 21-7. … Lancaster Catholic, which won the AA title a year ago but is now up a bracket in AAA, will likely move up from No. 7 since No. 5 Franklin Regional was upset 21-17 by Mars.
Defensive-minded: Pequea Valley returned an interception and two fumbles for touchdowns in a 45-16 rout of York County Tech.
Turnaround: District 7-A’s Avella, which went winless a year ago, opened last weekend with a 65-0 romp over Vincentian Academy — which kicked off its first season of football.

Still at it: Summerville (S.C.) head coach John McKissick picked up his 595th career win last weekend when the Green Wave bumped off Berkeley. McKissick is the nation’s all-time leader in career wins.
Streaking: Clairton actually shares the nation’s longest winning streak with Layfayette Central Catholic (Ind.), which won its 48th in a row last weekend. … The nation’s longest regular-season winning streak belongs to Webb City (Missouri), the two-time defending Class AAAA state champion, which has won 83 in a row.
You go girl: Tecumseh (Okla.) sophomore Jenni Goethe booted the game-winning 22-yard field goal in overtime to end a 16-13 thriller against Noble. The 5-foot-7 Goethe is a standout soccer and basketball player, too.
Efficient: Dayton Christian (Ohio) senior Heath Harding made the most of his five carries last week. Those five careers added up to 263 yards – 52.6 a carry, no less – and each one ended up in the end zone in a 72-40 runaway over Preble-Shawnee. Five carries, 263 yards, five touchdowns …not a bad night.
Going a bit too far: Notre Dame (Calif.) defeated Hamilton (Ariz.), 27-15, across the big pond in Dublin, Ireland. The airlines lost (or misplaced) most of the two teams’ luggage before recovering it, forcing the teams to go without pads for two days of practice. … On a brighter note, Philadelphia’s Father Judge had no trouble getting to County Meath, Ireland, or beating Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.), 20-6, once there.
Big bucks: Allen (Tex.) christened its new $59.6 million stadium with a 24-0 upset of the No. 8 ranked Southlake in front of 22,000-plus fans last weekend.

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