By Joseph Santoliquito
HERSHEY, PA (CBS) — The faces were all the same, long, glum. So were the eyes, red and blood shot, as the Archbishop Wood team trudged out of the locker room Friday night at Hersheypark Stadium, after losing the PIAA Class AAA state championship to Cathedral Prep, 24-14.
What was immediately forgotten is the amazing season the young Vikings had, getting back to the state title game with a mix of very young players and reliable seniors who were part of last year’s state championship.
“The only thing I can say is everyone gave everything they had, and we left it all out on the field,” Wood center Fran Walsh said. “Things didn’t turn out the way we wanted, obviously, but we gave it everything we had. I’m proud of the way our team played and proud we did everything we were asked.”
Wood took a 7-0 lead, but Cathedral Prep responded with 24 unanswered points—then hung on. The Vikings’ Andrew Guckin made it 24-14 on a five-yard score with 2:58 left in the third quarter, and suddenly what appeared to be a possible Cathedral Prep blowout turned into a tense fourth quarter.
The Ramblers thwarted two Wood fourth-quarter drives that could have placed the Vikings in a position to win. But Felix Manus-Schell stepped in front of Wood’s Chris Rahill, deflected the ball, then jumped up and hauled it in to clinch it for the Cathedral Prep in the closing minutes.
“I looked in the backfield for play-action, and it was a bad throw,” Manus-Schell said. “I got underneath it, tipped it and caught it. They were killing getting six, seven yards a run on us. But this is us, bringing it back to Erie.”
The loss wasted a great effort by Wood’s Guckin, who rushed for a game-high 178 yards on 30 carries. Wood scored on its opening possession, and the Ramblers rebounded with a scoring drive of their own. The game appeared to take on the form of a shootout, as the Vikings went charging back up the field again.
But Wood (12-3) killed itself with four penalties on five plays, and wouldn’t score again until the final minutes of the third quarter.
“I didn’t get an explanation [about the penalties], the first penalty I never even heard of, they said the center picked the ball up,” Wood coach Steve Devlin said. “But we had to be more disciplined. It was a huge drive. I’ll remember the heart and work ethic of this group. It’d credit to them to get back here again in the state championship. The Andrew Guckins of the world, they’re all what high school football is about.”
After the win, Cathedral Prep coach Mike Mischler was out of breath, when he took a step back, squinted into klieg lights beaming a wide, toothy smile and happily spouted, “The greatest part about coming to Hershey is a fat guy’s dream when they’re throwing all of that chocolate on you! It’s something I’ll never turn down, a rain of chocolate.”