Growing up, Alex Arcangeli often played that old kids' game, "Kill the Man with the Ball." And in what is pretty much a survival-of-the-fittest contest, he was usually the last standing.
These days, positioned at fullback for Archbishop Wood, Arcangeli is just as aggressive, bullish, and punishing when carrying the ball.
"Once I make contact with a player, I don't want that player to take me down," the 6-foot, 220-pound senior said. "I want it to take more than just one guy. I try to push the pile back as much as I can."
Saturday afternoon at Chambersburg High's rain-soaked field, Arcangeli rumbled for three first-half touchdowns as the Vikings hammered District 5's Somerset, 63-20, in a PIAA Class AAA state semifinal and moved closer to their third title.
"It was raining and there was a strong breeze, so I had the sense that we would mostly keep the ball on the ground," Arcangeli said. "We found a lot of openings in their defense and took advantage of it."
Wood (13-1) will take on District 7's Central Valley (15-0) for top honors at 7 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium. Central Valley advanced with a 26-21 win over District 3's Bishop McDevitt.
Might the Vikings, who have won six playoff games by a combined score of 240-87, be overconfident going into the final?
"There's no chance of that happening," said Arcangeli, a shot putter and long jumper in track and field. "The coaches won't go for it. They always have us in the right frame of mind."
Arcangeli transferred to Wood this year from Bensalem. "A lot of it had to do with my parents," the 18-year-old said. "They always wanted to send me to a private Catholic school, but couldn't do it financially before."
At Bensalem, Arcangeli was a running back and hard-hitting linebacker. Last season, he earned first-team all-Suburban One League National Conference honors on defense.
"I do miss playing linebacker every once in a while," he said. "I miss chasing down running backs and stuffing the hole."
Arcangeli's rugged blocking has helped close friend and classmate Jarrett McClenton, a Villanova-bound tailback, rush for nearly 2,000 yards and 33 TDs. The two live in the same Bensalem cul-de-sac.
Arcangeli has heard from a pair of Division I-AA programs: St. Francis (Pa.) and Wagner. At the Division II level, Shippensburg is a possibility.
Pennsbury-Prep. St. Joseph's Prep sprinted to a 27-0 lead and easily handled turnover-prone Pennsbury, 37-7, in Saturday's Class AAAA semifinal at Northeast. The Hawks will try for their second straight state crown against District 7's Pine-Richland (15-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Hershey. . . . Against Pennsbury (13-2), the Hawks (10-3) rushed for 352 yards on 53 attempts. Jack Clements attempted only six passes in a steady first-half rain, completing four for 42 yards. . . . The Prep's Nick Vandevere, Zachary Goss, Justin Montague, and Dillon DeIuliis recovered fumbles. . . . Pennsbury's Charles Snorweah carried 21 times for 174 yards. The Rutgers recruit finished the season with 2,782 yards and 38 TDs. . . . Falcons linebackers Greg Lichtenstein (nine), Luke Snyder (six), and Daulton Hose (six) combined for 21 tackles.