Wood storms to state crown
The Vikings made it look easy, routing Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt, 52-0.
HERSHEY, Pa. - Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt, many thought, might have the speed and size on defense to dramatically slow Archbishop Wood's vaunted rushing game and explosive playmakers.
It didn't take long for that idea to go up in flames.
The Vikings, taking out three years of frustration on the Crusaders, found pay dirt on four of their first five possessions and went on to earn their first PIAA Class AAA state football championship with a 52-0 waltz Friday night at Hersheypark Stadium.
Wood, after a second-place showing in 2008 and a pair of semifinal-round exits, finally reached the top of the mountain.
It was the largest title-game margin in the tournament's 24-year history.
"We were worried coming in," Vikings coach Steve Devlin said. "We thought we were in for a battle. I just think this was meant to be for us."
After a Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, the Vikings won 14 straight contests by a combined score of 682-104.
"This team's really good in the white," recent Ohio State head-coaching hire Urban Meyer, watching the action from the press box, said of the Vikings. "Physical, tough."
The Peoples cousins, Desmon (18 carries for 151 yards, two scores) and Brandon (16 for 171, three) combined for 322 of the squad's 343 rushing yards. Wood (14-1) built a 31-0 halftime advantage.
"I wouldn't say it was an easy game," said Desmon Peoples, bound for Rutgers. "They played us tough. We got a couple of scores early and kept it going."
Wood's offensive line, again dominant, consisted of center Brandon Arcidiacono, guards Fran Walsh and George Griffin, tackles Nick Arcidiacono and Frank Taylor, and tight ends Colin Thompson and Jonathan Vicari.
Before the break, the Catholic League and District 12 titlists racked up 217 rushing yards on 25 tries.
"They took a lot of chances. We knew they were going to blitz a lot," Devlin said.
McDevitt, repeatedly stopped at the point of attack, finished with minus-6 yards rushing on eight attempts in the half.
On Wood's third play from scrimmage, Brandon Peoples opened the scoring with a 30-yard burst. The Temple recruit added second-half touchdown runs of 67 and 6 yards.
Early in the second quarter, Desmon Peoples followed his interception near midfield with a 1-yard TD dive. After another three-and-out series by the Crusaders, Joey Monaghan (2 for 6, 48 yards) found Nate Smith on a right-to-left post route for a 19-yard score.
In the second half, the mercy rule, and running clock, went into effect when Andrew Guckin picked off a left-side pass and dashed 75 yards to the end zone.
With the Vikings stuffing the run, the Crusaders (13-3) repeatedly went to the air. Alec Werner connected on 21 of 48 throws for 239 yards, with three interceptions.
A defensive-line rotation that consistently applied pressure on Werner, who came in with 3,279 yards passing and 30 TDs, included Thompson, Taylor, Vicari, Brandon Arcidiacono, Brandon Peoples, and Ryan McMullen.
"This is the greatest team, the greatest kids I've ever been around," Devlin said.
Archbishop Wood 14 17 14 7 - 52
Bishop McDevitt 0 0 0 0 - 0
AW: B. Peoples 30 run (Visco kick)
AW: D. Peoples 54 run (Visco kick)
AW: D. Peoples 1 run (Visco kick)
AW: Smith 19 pass from Monaghan (Visco kick)
AW: FG Visco 41
AW: Guckin 75 interception return (Visco kick)
AW: B. Peoples 67 run (Visco kick)
AW: B. Peoples 6 run (Visco kick)