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Wood's Arcidiacono focused on another state title

FOR ANYONE who might doubt Nick Arcidiacono's focus level during this, his senior football season at Archbishop Wood High, a tidbit is offered.

FOR ANYONE who might doubt Nick Arcidiacono's focus level during this, his senior football season at Archbishop Wood High, a tidbit is offered.

An older brother, Mark, a product of St. Joseph's Prep, is a member of Penn State's squad, though inactive due to injury, and one September weekend most members of the football-crazed "Arches" traveled to University Park to watch the Nittany Lions in action.

And the opponent was . . . ?

"Hmm, who was that?" Nick said Tuesday. "Man, why can't I remember? . . . Oh, boy . . . Let me think here for a minute . . . Geez, who was it? . . . Sorry, it's not coming to me . . . I'd have to look at a schedule . . . I can't believe this."

Momentarily, Nick, a 6-4, 235-pound senior who stars as a tight end and linebacker/d-end combo, even had trouble recalling Rutgers' opponent for the one game he has seen involving that program's squad this fall.

"Oh, yeah. It was UConn," he blurted out, finally.

Hey, he had better have remembered that one. Rutgers is where Nick will begin his college career next season, and it's also where another brother, Brandon, a Wood product and projected center, is winding down a redshirting experience.

"It was pretty cool to be up there for the game," Nick said. "All of the recruits had lunch in this little area, and then we were able to watch the warmups from the sideline. After that we went up into the stands and watched the game."

Ever since, Nick has barely thought about it. Ditto for the Penn State-Whoever tilt.

After all, with Andrew Guckin, Chris Rahill and Fran Walsh, he's a captain for a Wood squad that is two steps away from capturing a second consecutive PIAA Class AAA state championship, and to say he's comsumed is to be guilty of an understatement.

The next game, vs. Allentown Central Catholic, will be played Friday night, 7 o'clock, at Bethlehem Liberty's Banko Field.

Many Arcidiaconos will be there. And by now, Nick is comfortable with the fact that Brandon, at least for 2012, is not among his teammates.

"Though it's different, no doubt, in some ways I feel it's better," Nick said Tuesday in an empty gymnasium, prior to a weightlifting session that was followed by practice. "It's not his team and their team anymore. It's our team since we're the seniors now. We lead the way and we'll see how far we can take us.

"Really, it's been this way since last January, when all the offseason preparations began. So I'm used to it now."

The Arcidiaconos, immediate family division, are 10 strong, counting mom, Mary, and dad, Mark, who starred at Father Judge (class of '83) and Temple. The other sibling older than Nick is Gavin. His grid career ended at Wood and he's a junior at Penn State.

Also now at Wood is Jane Mary, a member of the girls' basketball team's rotation. Matt and Brian are eighth- and seventh-graders, respectively, and coach Steve Devlin is already dreaming of what their contributions to Wood's program will be. Also in the brood is Bridget, Brian's twin.

It's only a rumor that the Arcidiaconos' home, in Holland, Bucks County, is shaped like a helmet.

"I'm proud to be in this family, and it's awesome that football is such a big part of everything," Nick said. "It's pretty much a year-'round thing because between the seasons you have all the training.

"I look up to my brothers, and at what they've accomplished. They've pushed me to do what they did. And at the same time, I'm trying to bring along my younger brothers, to instill in them the same kind of drive.

"I talk/text to Mark and Brandon all the time, just to see how things are going. They always say how much they're enjoying themselves, and that they want to see us do well."

Devlin admits to being intrigued by the Brandon/Nick personalities.

"I'd say Brandon is like Al Bundy and Nick is . . . like a California surfer dude," Devlin said, smiling. "Brandon can be a lot more serious while Nick can be pretty goofy. But once the switch goes on, they're the same.

"Nick is a shade more athletic, and can do more things, but Brandon's a very good lineman with strength and great technique."

While the '11 squad will long be feted as one of the best in city-leagues' history, this season's group has also proven to be special.

A key moment occurred, Nick said, after the Vikings (11-2) dropped a week six, cross-division decision to St. Joseph's Prep.

"It showed us much more work had to be done," he noted. "We rededicated ourselves and we've been on a roll [seven victories] ever since.

"The school is really into it. Everyone knows last year's team was really special, but they also know we have a chance to match that accomplishment; winning a state title."

That, of course, would give Nick a 2-1 advantage over Brandon.

"And I'd love that," he beamed.