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Southeastern Pennsylvania football rankings: Malvern Prep opens with ‘double win’

Behind senior all-purpose Lonnie White Jr., a Penn State recruit, the Friars rolled past Salesianum of Wilmington in an emotional start to the long-delayed season.

Malvern Prep coach Dave Gueriera figures his team scored a 'win' just by kicking off the season on Saturday. The Friars added a real victory to the symbolic one with a 35-0 shutout of Salesianum of Wilmington.
Malvern Prep coach Dave Gueriera figures his team scored a 'win' just by kicking off the season on Saturday. The Friars added a real victory to the symbolic one with a 35-0 shutout of Salesianum of Wilmington.Read moreLOU RABITO / Staff

Malvern Prep scored a win Saturday. To coach Dave Gueriera, it felt like two.

“Once that ball kicked off, that was a win for us,” Gueriera said of the start of his team’s home game Saturday against Salesianum of Wilmington. “To come from where we came from, with all the uncertainty, with so many ups and downs, just to take the field and have the game kick off, that was a win.”

Malvern Prep scored an actual win as well as a symbolic one. Senior all-purpose player Lonnie White, a Penn State recruit, led the way as the Friars registered a 35-0 victory over a Salesianum team that also was making its season debut.

White grabbed a pair of interceptions and caught two touchdown passes. “Lonnie White was Lonnie White,” Gueriera said. “He was insane.”

But the coach said one of the best parts of the game was the start, when the long-delayed season became a reality.

Malvern Prep, like many teams, endured an uncertain summer that included a temporary shutdown of sports, as the Inter-Ac League suspended interscholastic competition in late August to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Malvern Prep made the decision to stage fall sports as an independent on Oct. 9. A week later, the rest of the Inter-Ac League reversed course and announced plans to sponsor an abbreviated schedule in fall sports.

The situation left Malvern Prep scrambling to schedule football games, with Gueriera uncertain if the Friars will be playing the Hun School of Princeton this coming week or a local team.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Gueriera said. "It’s happening all over, teams are going week to week. You make the best of it.

“I’m just happy these kids are getting the chance to play. There were a lot of times when we thought it might never happen. When that ball kicked off Saturday, I was like, ‘Wow, we’ve come such a long way.’”

Here’s the latest Top 10 of Southeastern Pennsylvania football teams (previous ranking in parentheses):

1. St. Joseph’s Prep (1) 2-0: The Hawks' game Saturday with Bishop Sycamore of Columbus, Ohio, was canceled after the school in North Philadelphia moved to all-virtual classes Friday and shut down extracurricular activities following reports that multiple students tested positive for the coronavirus. The Prep still plans to play Archbishop Wood in a key Catholic League Class 6A game on Saturday, even though the Hawks are not expected to be permitted to practice this week. “It’s like we always tell these kids, ‘If adversity hits, it’s how to react to it that matters,’” Hawks coach Tim Roken said. With a win over Wood, the Prep would likely clinch the District 12, Class 6A title and punch its ticket to the Nov. 20 state semifinals, where the Hawks would meet the District 1 champion.

2. Pennridge (2) 4-0: The Rams beat Central Bucks South, 32-0, Friday to notch their third straight shutout. Quarterback Bobby Croyle ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns in Pennridge’s first home game. The Rams host Abington (3-1) on Friday with a chance to lock up one of four berths in the District 1, Class 6A tournament.

3. La Salle (3) 3-1: The Explorers were idle last week, having opened the season before most other Southeastern Pennsylvania squads with a Sept. 18 game at Manheim Township. La Salle hosts Roman Catholic (0-2) on Saturday, then meets No. 4 Archbishop Wood on Nov. 7.

4. Archbishop Wood (4) 2-0: The Vikings won their ninth straight game, beating Roman Catholic on Saturday, 28-7. Wood’s last loss was by 42-21 to the Prep on Oct. 11, 2019. The Vikings are tentatively scheduled to get another shot at the top-ranked Hawks on Saturday at William Tennent.

5. Malvern Prep (6) 1-0: Junior quarterback Jack Capaldi, making his first career start, threw three touchdown passes for the Friars in the win over Salesianum. Linebackers Ryan Davis and Jake Brownley led the defense. Davis made “double-digit tackles,” according to coach Dave Gueriera, and Brownley returned an interception for a score.

6. Coatesville (5) 3-0: Sophomore quarterback Harrison Susi ran for one score and passed for another Friday as the Red Raiders clinched first place in the Ches-Mont League National Division in a shortened season with a 20-14 win over Downingtown East. Senior Abdul-Sabur Stewart made the play of the game with a leaping grab of a Susi touchdown pass on the last snap of the first half. Coatesville can clinch a berth in the four-team, District 1, Class 6 tournament — and a likely visit to top-seeded Spring-Ford — with a win over Kennett (2-1) on Friday.

7. Downingtown East (7) 1-2: Playing without two-way star senior Stanley Bryant, who is sidelined with a knee injury, the Cougars showed some fight in rallying from a 20-0 deficit in the second half against Coatesville. They couldn’t quite finish the comeback in the 20-14 loss. Junior Josh Asante ran for 99 yards and a score and junior Mike Giardino was a playmaker for East, which plays West Chester Rustin (2-1) on Friday.

8. Bonner-Prendergast (10) 2-0: Kyle Lazer passed for three touchdowns and Derrick Jackson ran for a pair of scores as the Friars clinched the District 12, Class 4A spot in the state tournament with a 42-7 win over Archbishop Ryan. The Friars dedicated the game to Anne Cappelletti, mother of Bonner legend John Cappelletti, who won the Heisman Trophy at Penn State. Anne Cappelletti died last week at age 93. “She was such a supporter of our school,” Bonner coach Jack Muldoon said. Gaven Hunt caught a touchdown pass and lifted an interception for Bonner, which will play the District 1 representative the weekend of Nov. 6-7 in the first round of the PIAA state tournament.

9. Souderton (9) 4-0: Senior Jalen White gained 117 yards and scored three touchdowns on just six carries as the Big Red rolled to a 36-13 win over Hatboro-Horsham. Souderton plays Bensalem (0-4) on Friday with a chance to clinch a berth in the District 1, Class 6A tournament.

10. Downingtown West (NR) 1-1: The reigning District 1, Class 6A champion bounced back from a season-opening loss to Coatesville with a 46-0 victory over Avon Grove. Senior Julian Williams led the way with big plays on both sides of the ball, including a pick-six. Junior Will Mahmud added two scores for the Whippets, who play West Chester East (2-1) on Friday.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Bishop McDevitt (1-1), Episcopal Academy (0-0), Garnet Valley (1-0), Germantown Academy (0-0), Neumann Goretti (0-0), Neshaminy (3-1), North Penn (3-1), Spring-Ford (5-0).