MOST GRADUATES of now-closed high schools such as North Catholic, William Penn and Cardinal Dougherty would not know Vito Goggins from a veto of a bill passed by the house or senate, but they've certainly experienced his upcoming pain.
Edward Bok Tech is in its final weeks and Goggins still can't come to grips.
"We'll want to come back to Bok, but . . . can't do it. It's gonna disappear," he said. "We won't even be able to go to a football game and sit up in the stands and yell, 'Let's go Bok!' "
Saturday night at Northeast's Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium, under clouds that finally produced steady, second-half rain, Goggins and classmate Antoine Whitney had the honor of being Bok's last participants in the City All-Star Football Classic.
And, man, did they leave the premises with special memories.
Though playing an unfamiliar spot (tackle instead of end) on the defensive line, the 6-foot, 225-pound Goggins numbered an outrageous 15 tackles, with eight solos, as Public muffled Non-Public, 21-7, in the 39th meeting, slicing its deficit to 20-18-1.
Five of Goggins' takedowns occurred behind the line - 2 1/2 sacks, two other TFLs; worth 11 yards total - and he set up the game's first touchdown by forcing a fumble that Renz "Rodeo" Compton (Frankford) scooped up on N-P's 7 and returned to the 1-inch line. Goggins also recovered a loose ball in the game's waning moments.
"Playing tackle, I didn't know if I'd do good," he said. "But as practices went along, I started getting rid of my fears.
"On their first drive, they just had their right tackle blocking me. When they saw how nice I was playing, they started double-teaming me with the guard. That let me know I was affecting the game."
The 5-8, 150-pound Whitney, aside from making five catches for 32 yards, posted by far the game's biggest highlight, accepting the second of two laterals on a kickoff return and juking/jetting for a 79-yard touchdown.
After Dennis Boice (Father Judge) powered 1 yard for a score on the first play of the fourth quarter, creating a 7-7 tie, Denzel Turbeville (Frankford) caught a chip-shot kickoff by Kyle Battin (St. Joseph's Prep) and immediately found himself being swarmed. He latereled about 5 yards to Eerin Young (Imhotep Charter) and there was pretty much an instant replay, back to Whitney.
"Some of us were talking about doing laterals," Whitney said. "Not with the coaches. Just among us.
"That kick fell short and the second-line guy got it. Wasn't working out so he had to pitch it back to the third-line guy. They were coming on him, so I was thinking, 'Might be coming to me.' I was the last person, so I had to do it. It was, 'Do what I do.' Returns like that come normal for me. That's what I was waiting for."
Goggins and Whitney said there has been a strange dynamic at Bok in recent months.
Some students are really distressed about the closing while others are acting as if they don't come close to caring.
"The football players, we're all upset," Goggins said. "Those are the only guys I'm hanging out with, pretty much."
Noted Whitney: "High school is so much different than elementary or middle school. It's where you become a young adult, and get help from so many people to make that happen.
"The ones who don't seem to care, they're the ones you just know will leave Bok and not do anything special in life. The rest of us, we're taking it to heart. When I got the news, I fell down."
Whitney was especially motivated Saturday night by thoughts of his late sister, Nyesha. She graduated from Bok in 2004, starred in basketball, then did likewise at the Community College of Philadelphia. In June 2009, she was slain, in what police called a family-feud situation, shortly after giving birth and 2-plus months before Antoine enrolled at Bok.
Antoine wore Nyesha's No. 13 for the Wildcats, but sported No. 10 for this one because 13 was not available.
"My whole family was here tonight," he said.
Pause. Big smile. "That's what they were waiting for, what I gave them."
Whitney and Goggins were not the only stars from outta-here schools for coach Albie Crosby (Imhotep). End Diquan Gilbert (Communications Tech) hustled for 10 tackles and five solos while adding one solo sack and two partials. He also pounced on a fumble. Back Darnell Baldwin (Germantown) notched five solos among six stops.
The TD set up by Goggins' force and Compton's recovery came with 4:40 left in the first quarter and was scored by Wayne Brunson (Southern) on a 1-yard run.
Brunson also notched a 3-yarder 12:43 from game's end. That one was set up when Gilbert scooped up an errant snap on the 16 and hustled to the 11. A 4-yard loss for Brunson and a 12-yard pass from Davone Cornish (Simon Gratz Charter) to Whitney preceded the TD.
N-P, which suited only 28 players, was limited to 12 yards on 34 carries, 11 of which resulted in losses. Michael Keir (Roman Catholic) and Michael Hayes (Springside Chestnut Hill Academy) combined to pass for 180 yards, but Rene Villafane (George Washington) victimized the former for two interceptions.
Whitney likely is bound for Globe Tech, a junior college in New York City that has recently done well by Philly guys. Goggins could surface there, too, though others are seeking his services.
Wherever they wind up, here's guessing they'll be informing new teammates of their school's classic cheer: