In La Salle's 35-7 romp over Ridley in Saturday's PIAA Class AAAA state semifinal, the Explorers' defense yielded only 89 yards rushing and 89 passing through three quarters. Overall, coordinator John Steinmetz' unit forced four turnovers, all fumbles.
Linebackers Shane Brady and Ryan Saraceni, and safety Kevin Forster each posted five tackles. End Steve Sinnott produced four solo tackles, including a third-quarter sack, and batted down a pass.
Sinnott and tackle Steve Szostak had solo sacks. Brady was joined on his first-quarter sack by end Cameron Cappo.
Both of linebacker Anthony Cognetti's fumble recoveries came in the fourth quarter. The first was forced by end Joseph Naji's hit on quarterback Colin Masterson. The second, which Cognetti returned 36 yards to the Ridley 22, was caused by Saraceni's tackle of wideout Norm Donkin after a 7-yard gain.
Ridley's three first-half fumbles were forced by, in order, Brady (recovery by Szostak), Mark DiFrangia (on a punt return, recovery by Patrick Resch), and Forster (recovery by cornerback Vinny Migliarese).
Ridley will lose several standouts to graduation, including Masterson, wideout-cornerback Alex Nicolino, defensive end Casey DePrinzio, two-way tackle Rob Crispin, and linebacker Casey Decker.
But a number of talented juniors are expected to return for coach Dennis Decker: running back-linebacker Sam Dixon-Dugan, receiver-cornerback Dion Shaw, running back Shahaid Smith, and wideout-safety Donkin. Also expected back is up-and-coming sophomore running back-linebacker Jalen Randolph.
With Dixon-Dugan, Smith, and Randolph in the offensive backfield, the Green Raiders certainly have the potential to better this season's 30.1 points-per-game average.
In Ridley's loss to La Salle, Smith (14 carries for 103 yards) and Randolph (6 for 63) combined for all of the Green Raiders' 166 rushing yards. . . . Decker registered a team-high 12 tackles, including eight solo stops. Dixon-Dugan was next in line, with eight tackles, including a pair of sacks. Fellow linebacker Dillon Hayner notched six tackles, batted down a second-quarter pass, and had a third-quarter hurry. . . . Donkin, who made a terrific over-the-shoulder catch of a Masterson pass late in the second quarter, made four solo tackles.
Masterson, sacked three times for a total loss of 15 yards, completed 11 of 27 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. For the season, he passed for 2,400 yards and 25 scores. . . . Sixteen different players made tackles for La Salle. . . . With Jamal Abdur-Rahman (21 carries for 120 yards and two TDs) leading the way, the Explorers netted 138 yards rushing on 43 attempts. That total was diminished by Dixon-Dugan's second-quarter sack, which resulted in a loss of 26 yards and a fumble that was recovered by lineman Jesse Conserva.
Massachuetts was in this weekend to look at La Salle QB Drew Loughery, who completed 10 of 13 passes for 102 yards against Ridley. . . . Matt Craig, a junior tailback for Springfield (Delco), finished with 1,809 yards rushing and 22 TDs. He had 23 receptions for 190 yards, and 7 two-point conversions. . . . In 7 games, Souderton's Derek Brown totaled 15 TDs, 724 yards rushing and 297 receiving. . . . Wissahickon QB Brandon Gunn passed for 987 yards and ran for 954. . . . Upper Perkiomen's Chase Fleming rushed for 1,127 yards and 15 TDs. At linebacker, he posted 100-plus tackles, with 31/2 sacks, and returned an interception for a score. . . . Frank Yurick, a two-way tackle for Upper Dublin, notched a team-high 86 tackles and had 11 pancake blocks. . . . Haverford School end Sam Shea finished with 59 tackles, including seven sacks, and recovered two fumbles. . . . Downingtown East sophomore workhorse Drew Harris rushed 365 times for 2,002 yards and 30 TDs.