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Southeastern PA Top 10

Week of Nov. 1, 2013

1. Coatesville (Record: 9-0. Weeks Rated: 10.)

2. Imhotep Charter (Record: 7-1. Weeks Rated: 10.)

3. Neshaminy (Record: 9-0. Weeks Rated: 10.)

4. St. Joseph’s Prep (Record: 6-2. Weeks Rated: 10.)

5. La Salle (Record: 7-2. Weeks Rated: 10.)

6. Archbishop Wood (Record: 7-2. Weeks Rated: 10.)

7. Garnet Valley (Record: 9-0. Weeks Rated: 5.)

8. Pennsbury (Record: 8-1. Weeks Rated: 5.)

9. West Chester Rustin (Record: 9-0. Weeks Rated: 4.)

10. Archbishop Ryan (Record: 6-3. Weeks Rated: 1.)

By Joseph Santoliquito

Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Archbishop Ryan coach Frank McArdle could have told his team to bag it. The Raiders were eliminated from the Catholic League Class AAAA playoffs, with two games left against powerhouses Archbishop Wood and St. Joseph’s Prep before its traditional Thanksgiving Day game.

What was left to play for?

McArdle, a 2000 Ryan grad, has instituted pride back to a program that lost a little of it the past 15 years. McArdle wasn’t about to let that message slip against Wood and The Prep, winning back-to-back weeks, beating Wood, 22-7, on Oct. 19 and then surprising Prep, 27-14, last week.

It guarantees Ryan will finish the season with a winning record again. Beating Wood and Prep in successive weeks gives Ryan a good jolt of respectability and a 6-3 overall mark.

This is McArdle’s fifth year as the Raiders’ head coach and he’s gradually guided the program from 1-10 in 2009, to 2-9 in 2010, to 5-6 in 2011 and 6-5 last year, Ryan’s first overall winning season since 1998, according to McArdle. The Raiders are still looking for one more game to play this year, sitting at 6-3, before heading into their Thanksgiving Day game against George Washington.

Two years ago, McArdle would have had plenty of takers willing to play the Raiders. But when you’re winning and you’re good, especially after these last two weeks, not many will want to touch the Raiders.

“This year was a great step for us, a huge step for us,” said McArdle, who’s the assistant admissions director at Ryan after coaching at Northeastern from 2005-09. “The last couple of years, we’ve been able to keep our neighborhood kids—it’s all of the kids that have been feeding Ryan forever that led to this [turnaround]. It’s the kids from our area that I wanted to let know we can win here.”

That’s all McArdle did when he was at Ryan. An All-Catholic League player, McArdle was part of a Ryan team that lost to Prep in the Catholic League championship his sophomore year, lost to La Salle in the league finals his junior year and again fell to La Salle in the league semifinals as a senior.

“To me, coming back here, I thought it was like 1998 again, but there were only a few people that had the pride for what we did for 40 years. I wanted to get back to that—and do it consistently,” McArdle said. “I must be living in a time machine, because it’s still the 1990s to me. We know we’re in a loaded league [with statewide powers La Salle and Prep]. We tell our kids they should look at things two ways: We’re playing two of the top teams in the state and it is tough, because Prep and La Salle are awesome. La Salle and The Prep have raised the bar. If you put Ryan, [Father] Judge and Roman [Catholic] in any other league, we would win eight or nine games.

“Beating Prep was bittersweet. We beat a great program, with a great coach, Gabe Infante, but we’re not going to the playoffs. Our kids took the challenge and competed really well. In Wood and Prep, we beat two of the top teams in the state.”

Ryan’s future looks very bright. Junior tailback Samir Bullock, a transfer from Father Judge, is a game-breaking star and freshman quarterback Matt Romano came on and could start next year as a sophomore.

“We wanted to qualify for the playoffs and we wanted to win the Catholic League, but I think this year brought us back to respectability.” McArdle said. “This year raised our level. People have to get ready to play Archbishop Ryan. Coach Infante even told me before the game that they couldn’t go to sleep on us. Gabe has a lot of class and he congratulated me after the game.”

The Raiders have Washington on Nov. 28.

“I told the kids after beating Prep how proud I was of them,” McArdle said. “We had nothing to play for but the pride in ourselves and a pride in the program. We tell them all of the time that they’re part of something larger. We’re getting there.”

Anyone want to play Ryan now?

Game of the Week

Neshaminy (9-0) at Pennsbury (8-1), Friday, 7 PM

This a real heavyweight clash between two 6-0 teams in the rough Suburban One National Conference. The winner advances its status in the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA power-point standings, which will be final after this weekend. Neshaminy is currently second and Pennsbury is fifth. The Falcons are riding an eight-game winning streak, averaging 41.1 points during the run. Neshaminy has four shutouts and allowing opponents a mere 6.1 points a game. Here’s a lean toward defense.

Prediction: Neshaminy 27, Pennsbury 23

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.

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