Jack Rapine's smooth transition from offensive guard to tight end has played a key role in Upper Dublin's record-setting season.
"It's a lot different, but I like it," said the senior captain, who started at guard the last two seasons and filled in there due to a teammate's injury earlier this year. "I'm pretty much a blocking tight end, but I also enjoy running routes and making catches."
On Saturday afternoon at Souderton, with a scoring grab and two touchdown-paving receptions, Rapine helped the Cardinals storm past North Penn, 46-21, for the program's first District 1 Class AAAA title.
Midway through the first quarter, Ryan Stover rolled right and connected with Rapine near the sideline for a 27-yard gain to the Knights' 8-yard line. Stacey Gardner produced the first of his four TD runs from there to give Upper Dublin (14-0) a 14-0 lead.
"A lot of the credit has to go to our coaches," said Rapine, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder who doubles at outside linebacker. "They put us in position to execute plays like that."
Fueled by swift tailback Nyfease West, who carried 21 times for 118 yards in the first half, North Penn (11-3) responded with three straight scoring drives to move in front, 21-14.
Down by 21-17 at the break, the Cardinals exploded for 29 unanswered points over the next 16 minutes. On the first of their three third-quarter tallies, Rapine's 29-yard catch was followed by Gardner's 13-yard scamper around left end.
On a post pattern over the middle, Rapine hauled in a 31-yard strike from Stover to make it 31-21. The two hooked up for a 13-yard gain on the previous play of an eight-play, 60-yard series.
Of Upper Dublin's quick and stunning turnaround, Rapine said, "We made a few adjustments on both sides of the ball at halftime. On defense, we didn't want our line penetrating so far upfield."
The Cardinals will take on District 11's Parkland (13-1) in a state semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday at Souderton. The Trojans, aided by a controversial pass-interference call late in regulation, nipped La Salle, 16-13, in overtime Saturday.
Rapine played through leg cramps that surfaced in the second quarter. "It got persistently worse," the 17-year old said. "I tried to stretch out my legs after each play."
Overall, Rapine had four catches for 100 yards and posted two solo tackles. "His athleticism makes him a great playmaker," Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover said. "It's fun to watch him."
On defense against North Penn, Rapine received strong support from tackles Gary Fields, Kaleif Lee, and Isaiah Henrich, linebackers Stacey Gardner and Henry Winebrake, and strong safety Evan Scott.
In the third quarter, Gardner and Scott combined to force a fumble that was recovered by Fields at the North Penn 27. Four plays later, Gardener scored from the 3.
Rapine, an erstwhile basketball player and wrestler, will play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins. The Ambler resident earned first-team all-Suburban One League American conference honors as a defender last season.
Extra points. Upper Dublin middle linebacker Henry Winebrake, returning from an injury, was involved in eight tackles vs. North Penn. The Cardinals' Mike Sowers, a receiver and cornerback, sat out due to injury. ... North Penn strong safety Justin Ostopowicz was involved in 11 tackles. ... Imhotep Charter tailback Tyliek Raynor, an Arizona recruit, suffered a broken ankle in Friday's Class AAA quarterfinal win over Academy Park. ... Tim Sorber has stepped down as Abington's head coach after compiling a 104-86 record in 16 seasons. "I just think it's time for me to take a little break," the 43-year-old said. An offensive tackle for the Ghosts in the late 1980s, Sorber, who went on to play at Millersville, is a social studies teacher at Abington. ... Archbishop Carroll let Joe Powel go as head coach. He went 13-37 in five seasons with the Patriots.
Week 15. Here is next weekend's playoff schedule.
PIAA Class AAA Semifinal
Imhotep Charter (13-0) vs. Saucon Valley (14-0), at Frank Banko Field in Bethlehem, 7.
PIAA Class AAAA Semifinal
Upper Dublin (14-0) vs. Parkland (13-1), at Souderton, 1.
PIAA Class AA Semifinal
West Catholic (10-4) vs. Southern Columbia (14-0), at Northern Lehigh in Slatington, 1.