There is no doubt that, from the outside looking in, it seemed as though Rick Prete’s hands were full in his first game as head coach of the Roman Catholic football team on Saturday afternoon.
After all, the Cahillites were trailing Pope John Paul II, 26-0, before the first quarter ended. Could the team mount a comeback of that magnitude behind a new head coach?
The short answer is yes. The Cahillites stormed back to win, 47-46, in an exhilarating first game of the season. Jayden Pope connected with Malachi Harris on a 50-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute, 30 seconds to play to account for the winning points.
From the team’s point of view, its resiliency was something that was never in question.
Prete said that his team’s mindset when it comes to such a situation had already been planted way before the first snap of the game. Having to come back after being down four scores before the first quarter ended might not have been a topic of prior discussions, but it certainly was not one the players would shy away from. That’s not how Prete intends to “bring Roman football back.”
“We’re telling our team going into this game that stuff like this is going to happen, it’s going to present itself," Prete said. "Adversity is part of the season. We told our kids that, maybe not [being down] 26-0, but somewhere we would come back and dig ourselves out of a hole and face some adversity. Our culture is about staying the course and overcoming that.”
He added, “Honestly, I don’t know if it’s necessarily anything in particular that I bring to the table. It’s just that these boys know that they have to believe in themselves and that this thing isn’t over until it’s over. They have to continue to fight. This win is completely about them and them not packing it in. ... At Roman, we will continue to fight.”
Harris had four total touchdowns through the air and on the ground. In his first varsity start, Pope had more than 300 yards passing and a 46-yard rushing touchdown.
“There’s some newcomers on our team that let everybody know that they are here," Prete said. "They really stepped up and put the team on their backs, along with our offensive line. They were so physically imposing ... the support from everyone that came out was huge. We’re going to continue to need it, and we’re going to bring Roman football back.”
Dominic D’Adonna picked up his first career head coaching win and did so in dramatic fashion, as Lansdale Catholic edged Father Judge, 44-42. After Lansdale Catholic took a 10-0 lead going into the second quarter, neither was able to tally unanswered scoring plays for the remainder of the game.
Father Judge quarterback Aidan Dooley connected with Dan Foy for an 82-yard touchdown to cut Lansdale Catholic’s lead to 38-35 in the fourth quarter, but Danny Dutkiewicz’s third rushing touchdown of the day extended the lead back to nine after a failed extra point attempt.
Father Judge responded with a Dooley rushing touchdown with 32 seconds left in the game, but it was too late.
L.J. Phillips went 15-for-19 for 339 yards and three touchdowns for Lansdale Catholic. Dooley was 13-for-17 passing for 334 yards and three scores, while adding two more on the ground.
Marple Newtown shut out KIPP DuBois, 33-0. Charlie Box opened the scoring for the Tigers with a 3-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. Box added another on the ground from 10 yards and had an interception to give Marple Newtown a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.
Brian Joslin added two rushing scores and Tyler Lynch had a 40-yard receiving touchdown from Joe Paoletti for the game’s only touchdown through the air.
Sean Pelkisson’s four-touchdown day led Downingtown West to a 42-19 win over Garnet Valley. Pelkisson had two rushing scores and two receiving from Will Howard.