"A lot of people have said that we haven't really played anybody. Our kids took that as a personal challenge; they want this title."
- Wood coach Steve Devlin
Last week, it was the run that led Archbishop Wood High one step closer to its first PIAA Class AAA state title. This week, the Vikings can credit their defense for stopping both the run and explosive passing game of Selinsgrove, putting Wood on the brink of a state crown after a 13-7 win last night at Hersheypark Stadium.
"I am so proud of these kids, we just played great defensive football," Devlin said. "I mean, Selinsgrove has a great quarterback in [Cory] Briggs, but these kids proved they wanted it more."
Wood (12-2) found pay dirt first after a 6-yard scamper by quarterback Sean McCartney, which capped an eight-play opening drive highlighted by a key 27-yard reception by receiver Vince Furlong.
McCartney (10-for-14, 135 yards, touchdown, interception) actually finished with better numbers than Briggs, who had entered the game throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
"Sean's a warrior, he threw well, he ran well, he did everything we asked of him tonight," Devlin said.
A 46-yard run in the first quarter from Selinsgrove (12-2) back Kyle Reinard quieted the Wood crowd that had traveled to Chocolate Town, but only momentarily. McCartney capped the affair with an 8-yard pass to tight end Anthony Narisi (three catches, 36 yards) for the game's final score.
But it was a defensive front that kept Wood's state dream a reality, as, along with shutting down Briggs, the Vikings' defensive backs kept a lock on Selinsgrove receiver Ryan Keiser, who entered the game with 71 receptions for more than 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns. Keiser finished the night with just 29 yards on three catches. In all, Selinsgrove amassed only 159 yards on offense, with an interception by Wood defensive back Scott Adkins.
"We came out a little hype at first, but we made a couple of adjustments at the half that allowed us to slow the game down and play our style," Devlin said. The PIAA road leads back to Hershey next Friday, when Wood will play District 7 winner Thomas Jefferson, a 49-21 semifinal winner over District 3 champ West York last night.