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Wood's Arcidiacono brothers ready for Class AAA semifinal rematch

SNAPPED 4 SCHOOL years ago, in the library at St. Joseph's Prep, the photo shows about 35 family members/friends expressing unabashed joy moments after star lineman Mark Arcidiacono announced his decision to attend Penn State.

SNAPPED 4 SCHOOL years ago, in the library at St. Joseph's Prep, the photo shows about 35 family members/friends expressing unabashed joy moments after star lineman Mark Arcidiacono announced his decision to attend Penn State.

Standing in the back, maybe even on tippy-toes, and peering over Mark's right shoulder is his brother, Brandon, then an eighth-grader.

Shown the pic yesterday, shortly before practice, Brandon smiled and said, "That was 100 pounds ago."

Yes, but the future pic was already vivid.

"I was so skinny back then, I guess I figured the chances of getting a Division I scholarship were pretty slim," Brandon said. "My parents weren't trying to crush my dreams, but they would always talk about how hard it is to get one, about how it's such an uncommon blessing.

"I knew it was Mark's day. And I was very excited for him. But at the same time, I was going, 'I want this . . . I want this.' "

Brandon Arcidiacono (archie-dee-ock-uh-no) is now a 6-5, 245-pound senior at Archbishop Wood, and he serves coach Steve Devlin as the starting center and part-time defensive lineman. His next football squad will be Rutgers - yes, on scholarship - and it's likely the family's D-I fun is nowhere close to concluding.

Right next to Brandon at guard is brother Nick, a 6-2, 230-pound junior who's already receiving big-time sniffs. Also permitted to fantasize (realitysize?) are Matt and Brian, seventh- and sixth-graders, respectively, at St. Bede, in Holland.

First things first, however.

Friday night at Northeast, in front of what promises to be a humongous crowd, Wood will meet Allentown Central Catholic in a PIAA Class AAA semifinal.

Those two met in the same round last season and ACC prevailed, 49-27, as superstar quarterback Brendan Nosvitch, now a senior committed to South Carolina, generated 602 yards of passing/rushing and had his arm/feet in all seven touchdowns.

"We tried to focus week by week," Arcidiacono said. "But that game has been in the back of our minds ever since it happened. A lot of unfinished business.

"I just picked up my brother from an all-star practice and everybody was coming over to me. 'Are you one of the Arches?' They were saying they were coming to the game, wouldn't miss it for the world. All those kinds of things. It's going to be an exciting night."

Once the Vikings began practice yesterday, at an indoor facility across York Road from Wood, Brandon and Nick were poppin' pads with passion. Matt and Brian, as ballboys, will be right on the sideline Friday.

Before then, it's possible they'll even be dragged into the kitchen for pseudo football.

"Nick and I never get after each other on the field," Brandon said. "But sometimes we'll get together and go over things at home. We'll line up the younger brothers and decide who should have blocked who based on where we place them.

"And [Monday] night, I called Mark up at Penn State [he's a second-string guard as a redshirt soph]. I do that any time we're facing an unusual defensive front. I just want to be sure about who I'm supposed to block."

The Arcidiaconos and football go way back, as dad Mark played at Father Judge and Temple. Son Mark was always obsessed with Penn State, Brandon said, to such an extent Nittany Lions games would be watched on TV even if the Eagles were on simultaneously.

The whole family loves football - no one's allowed not to, actually - and that includes the three females, mom Mary and daughters Jane Mary and Bridget, Brian's twin.

Jane Mary is a soph at Wood and there she was yesterday in the gym, practicing with the basketball team.

When quizzed whether she could think of something interesting to ask Brandon, she laughed and said, "Get him to talk about his wonderful sister."

How 'bout it, Brandon?

"She always complains that we never mention her," he cracked. "She always says if she someday gets interviewed, she's going to say, 'My brothers stink!' And I always tell her, 'If you do mention us, you know what's going to happen, right? The reporter's going to ask [excitedly], 'Ooooh, where are they? Are they here?' "

In time, it's possible the Arcidiaconos will finish just short of the acknowledged city leagues record for Most Brothers to Play D-I football. The Person family, of Havertown and Episcopal Academy, produced six: Andy (oldest, class of '91), Chris, Dan and Joe (youngest, '02)played for Navy while Brian and Fran opted for Penn and South Carolina, respectively.

There are also six Archie brothers. Gavin, No. 2 in line, played for Wood and is now a sophomore at Penn State Altoona with the hope of transferring next year to the main campus.

"Nah, he wouldn't try to walk on," Brandon said. "He did love playing football, though. It helped him become the man he is."

Meanwhile, Brandon said the best element of his senior season has been the chance to start alongside Nick.

"He could be the best of all of us," he said. "He has always been the hardest worker in the family."

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