Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak, preparing for tomorrow night's PIAA Class AAA state championship game vs. Archbishop Wood at HersheyPark Stadium, likened the Vikings' offense to WPIAL rival Blackhawk.
"They can hurt you in a lot of ways," Cherpak said, "and they have a quarterback that can make a lot of things happen, both throwing the ball and running with it."
That QB is 6-foot-3, 170-pound senior Sean McCartney, who has passed for nearly 1,300 yards and rushed for more than 600 in 13 games.
Blackhawk, eliminated by the Jaguars in the WPIAL final, spread the ball among QB Zack Hayward (1,895 yards passing, 25 touchdowns), running back Bryan Stefanik (1,254 yards rushing, 11 TDs), and wideout Jake Delmonico (55 catches for 603 yards, eight TDs).
In its 35-14 win over the Cougars on Nov. 22, Thomas Jefferson held the dangerous trio to 160 yards.
In addition to McCartney, Wood is powered by halfback Sean Cunningham (286 carries for 1,749 yards, 26 TDs), fullback Nick Devine (71 for 479, eight), and wideouts Mike Maxwell (27 catches for 472 yards) and Vince Furlong (20 for 423).
The Jaguars, who last season beat Garnet Valley for their second state title in four years, are sparked on offense by running back Brian Baldrige (274 carries for 2,191 yards, 34 TDs), QB Tyler Wehner (111 for 198, 2,498 yards, 30 TDs), and wideout Dan Virgin (41 catches for 1,037 yards, 12 TDs).
"They're a AAA school, but they're one of the best teams in the state, at any level," Archbishop Wood coach Steve Devlin said.
Thomas Jefferson's defensive line is anchored by 6-6, 270-pound senior tackle Pat Eger.
"He can really move for a big kid," Devlin said. "We're going to have to be aware of him at all times."
Burrs, Quips similar. Just as Cherpak compared Archbishop Wood to Blackhawk, Wilmington boss Terry Verrelli compared West Catholic, the Greyhounds' opponent in Saturday's Class AA final in Hershey, to Aliquippa.
"West Catholic is very much like Aliquippa. It has all kinds of speed," said Verrelli, whose squad downed the Quips, 29-28, in overtime in the state semifinals.
Wilmington, of District 10, is making its first appearance in the state final in 20 years. It bowed to Bethlehem Catholic, 26-11, in 1988.
With a wing-T scheme, the Greyhounds are led by fullback Derrick Burns (166 carries for 1,462 yards, 20 TDs) and halfback Sutton Whiting (112 for 936, 12). QB Shane Wagner has completed 90 of 173 throws for 1,386 yards and 21 TDs.
Subjective top 10. We've reached the end of our position-by-position evaluation of local football talent. We close with the top 10 kickers/punters in Southeastern Pennsylvania:
1. Brandon McManus, North Penn, senior, 6-3, 196, K-P.
2. Shawn Leo, Souderton, senior, 5-8, 150, K-P.
3. Tim Freiling, Northeast, senior, 6-5, 200, K-P.
4. Jake Smith, Cheltenham, senior, 6-0, 155, K-P.
5. Will McFillin, George Washington, senior, 6-4, 190, K-P
6. James McFadden, Archbishop Wood, senior, 5-10, 175, K.
7. Mike Bennett, La Salle, junior, 6-1, 180, K.
8. Kevin Martin, Haverford High, senior, 5-10, 155, K.
9. Patrick Connaghan, Chestnut Hill Academy, junior, 6-4, 190, K-P
10. Seth Jeffries, Neshaminy, senior, 5-11, 190, K.
Here are the best of the rest, listed alphabetically: Tim Carroll, West Catholic, junior, 6-2, 180; Kyle Haber, Roman Catholic, sophomore, 5-10, 165, K-P; Devin Hunter, Academy Park, senior, 6-6, 215, K-P; Chris Massaro, Coatesville, senior, 5-9, 165, K-P; Blake Montgomery, Pennsbury, senior, 5-11, 178, K-P; Trevor Sasek, Spring-Ford, senior, 6-6, 195, P; Pat Schultz, Father Judge, senior, 5-8, 147, K; Mark Tiberi, Malvern Prep, junior, 6-3, 210, K-P; Tyler Wilkinson, Avon Grove, senior, 6-1, 235, K.
Extra points. Ben Petrak, a do-everything player for Kennett, had 600 yards passing, 658 yards rushing, 181 yards receiving, and 150 return yards. . . . Chris Smallwood, a 5-10, 185-pound junior for Upper Moreland rushed for 1,896 yards and 26 TDs in 10 games. . . . Chester QB Al Payne passed for 1,085 yards and ran for 512. The Clippers' defensive leader was linebacker Al Wells. With 97 tackles, including 52 solos, the senior finished his career with a school-record 424 stops. . . . Souderton's Shawn Leo was 6 for 8 on field goal attempts, converted 26 of 28 extra-point tries and had a 37-yard punting average.
Haverford High's Dante Pergolose rushed for a single-season school record of 1,628 yards and 16 TDs. Teammate Liam McGrath, a defensive back, notched nine interceptions. . . . For Downingtown East, 6-5, 215-pound sophomore tight end Tyler Kroft caught 37 passes for 512 yards and nine TDs. . . . Coatesville's Kenny Wylie rushed for 1,448 yards and nine TDs. . . . Chase Fleming, a junior linebacker for Upper Perkiomen, netted 106 tackles (56 solos). . . . Kasseim Everett, a 1,690-yard rusher for Roman Catholic, is scheduled to visit Delaware this weekend. Interest is also coming from Temple and other Colonial Athletic Association schools.
Upper Dublin's Josh Mastromatto exploded for 1,537 rushing yards and 26 TDs in a little over nine games. Teammate Mark Visco, an undersize inside linebacker, posted 123 tackles. . . . Bishop Shanahan QB Greg Cordivari threw for 2,255 yards and 24 TDs. The Eagles' leading receiver was Ryan Alderman (73 catches for 1,177 yards, 14 TDs). . . . Sam Kind, a junior and first-year starter for Abington, connected on 157 of 238 passes for 2,471 yards and 19 TDs, with six interceptions. His top targets were wideouts Anthony Hensley (48 catches for 1,123 yards, 12 TDs) and Dom Massey (36 for 519, eight).