Archbishop Wood Welcomes The Pressure Of Winning
By Joseph Santoliquito
Week of Sept. 7, 2012
1. Downingtown East (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: 1. Weeks Rated: 2.)
2. Archbishop Wood (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: 2. Weeks Rated: 2.)
3. La Salle (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: 3. Weeks Rated: 2.)
4. Roman Catholic (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: 5. Weeks Rated: 2.)
5. North Penn (Record: 0-1. Previous Week: 4. Weeks Rated: 2.)
6. Neshaminy (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: 7. Weeks Rated: 2.)
7. Imhotep Charter (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: 10. Weeks Rated: 2.)
8. Pennridge (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: NR. Weeks Rated: 1.)
9. Central Bucks South (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: NR. Weeks Rated: 1.)
10. Garnet Valley (Record: 1-0. Previous Week: NR. Weeks Rated: 1.)
The initial point Archbishop Wood coach Steve Devlin wanted to address, as he gathered his 2012 team around him the first practice in August, was to forget. Forget everything that happened the previous year. Drop the 14-1 record. Erase the first PIAA Class AAA state football championship in school history. Lose the thought of repeating anything “that team” did and set their focus on 2012.
Devlin did a great job last year of keeping the concentration of what Wood had to accomplish. The Vikings were everyone’s choice to do exactly what they did—steamroll over every team in Southeastern Pennsylvania en route to a state title.
A lot was lost from that 2011 team. Much is still expected of this team, which returns a solid nucleus that should again go deep into December.
The Vikings will put their 15-game winning streak on the line this Saturday night when they host traditional powerhouse North Penn, at 7 p.m. at William Tennent. Wood has a good idea what to expect, because it will face the same test each week: The A-game of every team they face.
“As a team, we know everyone is out to get us, it doesn’t matter to us, we have a lot to prove,” Wood senior quarterback Chris Rahill said. “We have a lot of guys we lost from last year, and we have a great coaching staff and worked hard in the offseason. People want to beat us because of last year. We had a ton of great players, and we do have something to prove, because we have guys stepping in who didn’t play last year, like me.
“I think there’s the feeling people have that we won’t be as good as we were last year. I think we’re still a good team and Saturday night against North Penn will be another big test. They’re always a good team and they have a good defense. It’s going to be a great physical game.”
What aids Rahill and Wood is the PIAA transfer approval of 5-foot-8, 165-pound tailback LaQuille Nesbitt, who came in from Northeast.
Nesbitt replaces Brandon and Desmon Peoples. It will make Wood better, but that shouldn’t change the heat Wood is bound to face every week.
In fact, they like it.
“We definitely feel pressure, but it makes work harder, and we love that,” said Nick Arcidiacono, Wood’s 6-4, 240-pound senior DE/TE who’s committed to Rutgers. “We like the targets on our backs and we’re excited for this year. A lot of guys come back with experience from last year. We want to create our own identity.”
Games of the Week
Roman Catholic (1-0) at Downingtown East (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday night: Roman was impressive, responding with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Malvern Prep, 28-27, last Saturday, behind 138 yards rushing from Dimetri Kelly, a sophomore running back.
Richmond-bound Kyle Lauletta threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in Downingtown East’s 42-18 pounding of Monsignor Bonner in the Cougars’ season opener. Downingtown East amassed over 500 total yards of offense.
Expect a lot of high-wire scoring in this one, with Michigan State-bound Jay Harris leading the Cougars, and Notre Dame-commit Will Fuller featured as Roman Catholic’s deep threat. The over-under should be 80 points.
Prediction: Downingtown East 48, Roman Catholic 42
North Penn (1-0) at Archbishop Wood (1-0), 7 p.m. Saturday at William Tennent: A war between two, big physical teams. Wood rides a 15-game winning streak, including the 2011 PIAA Class AAA state championship and a crushing 44-7 season-opening victory over Bensalem.
North Penn is traditionally one of the best programs in the area and if you’re going to get the Knights, you better zap them early. North Penn gave up 360 yards of total offense in a 20-7 loss to La Salle in its season opener. La Salle receiver Sean Coleman stung them for 10 catches for 165 yards, including an 80-yard TD catch.
North Penn will face something a little different in Wood, which pounds, pounds, pounds. The Vikings blow out of Bensalem produced 330 yards of total offense, 310 of which came on the ground. Wood’s LaQuille Nesbitt, a speedy, senior tailback transfer from Northeast, debuted for 118 yards rushing on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Wood also played the game without starters Andrew Guckin and Nick Arcidiacono, who will be able to play. Guckin is questionable.
Prediction: Wood 45, North Penn 20
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.