High School Top 10: Archbishop Wood And St. Joe’s Prep Enter National Stage

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Between them, the powerhouse programs at St. Joseph’s Prep and Archbishop Wood have won five state championships in the last five years. Between them, Wood and Prep have dominated the Philadelphia area in high school football. Between them, the two programs have set the standard for every other program in the area—Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

Now Prep and Wood will share the national spotlight tonight when their game will be nationally televised from William Tennent High School at 7:30 p.m.

This will be the only time these teams will meet. Under the PIAA’s new 6A classification, Prep is a 6A school and Wood a 5A. The Philadelphia Catholic League, however, is now a two-division configuration, featuring the Red Division (large schools of 6A and 5A, which includes Prep, Wood, LaSalle, Roman Catholic, Father Judge, Archbishop Carroll and Archbishop Ryan) and Blue Division (small schools including 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A, which will include Cardinal O’Hara and Bonner-Prendergast, Lansdale Catholic, Conwell-Egan, West Catholic, Neumann-Goretti and Bishop McDevitt).

Related: Vote for the Game of the Week 

To Wood and Prep, it doesn’t matter. They’re programs that play at a higher level.

There could be some debate when it comes to which team has the better history. But there is no debate when it comes to the present, especially after last week. Prep is the better team and without a doubt the best in the area, and here’s why: The Hawks made many mistakes—and still beat traditional national power Don Bosco rather handily, 35-24.

“Every game is a step toward getting to know our guys better and what we’ve seen so far is that they’re a physical group and very adept at blocking and tackling,” Prep coach Gabe Infante said. “We’ve done a good job of executing the fundamentals well. I’m happy with the way the guys have responded to the challenges in front of them.”

Who’s really shined is 6-foot-2 junior quarterback Marquez McCray. He complements Hawks’ dangerous senior tailback D’Andre Swift exceptionally well in his ability to run and pass. In the short time McCray has been the quarterback, he’s also demonstrated to make changes on the go. He’s a budding high school version of Russell Wilson.

“With Marquez, it was never a question of is he a quality player, he always has been. It’s been a question of when we could start him and give him his chance,” Infante said. “It’s a big adjustment for a young kid to come into our system, because it is such a quarterback-driven system. There are so many things we ask our quarterback to do, and there is a learning curve with it. It was a matter of when Marquez felt okay within the system. He has a good amount of latitude to change the play at the line of scrimmage, and we have confidence that Marquez will make the right decision.”

Wood will counter with a team that’s smaller than the Vikings traditionally were in the past, but a very fast, athletic team that features deep threat Mark Webb, Wood’s 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior receiver.

“Wood is a good team that’s well coached,” Infante said. “I think Wood has great playmakers; I love their skill-position players. I like the way their offensive line comes off the ball. It will be interesting to see how our defense deals with their fast offensive line. A big key is that they have a lot of guys that go both ways. We have to figure out a way for them to expend energy.”

Wood wants a slower-paced game with fewer Prep possessions, while Prep will need to keep the energy high and speed up the tempo.

CBS Philly’s Area Top 10 Power Ratings For Sept. 16, 2016
1. St. Joe’s Prep (Record: 2-0)
2. Imhotep Charter (Record: 2-0)
3. Neshaminy (Record: 3-0)
4. North Penn (Record: 3-0)
5. St. Augustine (NJ) (Record: 2-0)
6. Archbishop Wood (Record: 0-1-1)
7. Timber Creek (NJ) (Record: 1-0)
8. Haverford School (Record: 2-0)
9. Malvern Prep (Record: 1-1)
10. St. Joseph’s (NJ) (Record: 0-0)

Southeastern PA Top 10 Sept. 16, 2016
1. St. Joe’s Prep (Record: 2-0)
2. Imhotep Charter (Record: 2-0)
3. Neshaminy (Record: 3-0)
4. North Penn (Record: 3-0)
5. Archbishop Wood (Record: 0-1-1)
6. Haverford School (Record: 2-0)
7. Malvern Prep (Record: 1-1)
8. Downingtown East (Record: 1-1)
9. Perkiomen Valley (Record: 3-0)
10. Archbishop Ryan (Record: 3-0)

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