Plymouth Meeting, Pa., Two weeks after combining to score 82 points in their first meeting, everyone wondered what kind of fireworks would happen the second time the Archbishop Wood Vikings and Cardinal O’Hara Lions met. This time the defenses played more a part in Wood’s 24-7 victory last night at Plymouth Whitemarsh High and the D12, PCL, AAA championship as their reward.
The first time these teams met the Vikings huge offensive line and the running of cousins Desmon and Brandon Peoples vs. O’Hara’s three man front provided the difference throughout. Last night O’Hara coach, Dan Algeo put more men in the box more often and it proved effective to some degree. But when you have a running back (Peoples) who could burst a big gainer at any time, there’s always a roll of the dice that you take.
Immediately the Lions keyed on the cousins and it was effective the first six times they touched the ball. After the Vikings first series and a punt, O’Hara was pinned on their own 11 yard line. After a three and out series and being forced to punt, the Vikings got good field position on the Lion 33. Six plays later on a burst through the middle Desmon scored on a 23 yard run and a 7-0 lead.
It appeared that the Lions were going to be effective throwing the ball on their next series. Starting on their own 26 yard line, O’Hara then generated a 14 play, six minute drive with three completions from QB Ryan Laughlin for 45 yards. The drive stalled on the Wood 16 and Steve Weyler’s 32 yard FG attempt went wide right.
Wood went right to work on O’Hara’s missed opportunity with their own six play drive. The last two, Desmon’s 16 and 47 yard run. The latter was a beauty and a touchdown and a Wood 14-0 lead at the half.
O’Hara had immediately attempted to take momentum in the second half but two costly fumbles (the last on a muffed punt return and recovered by Wood’s Andrew Guckin) gave Wood the ball on the O’Hara 17. The Lions, with their backs to the wall and to the credit of their defense tightened up and forced the Vikings to add on to their lead with a Nick Visco 35 yard field goal and a 17-0 lead.
The momentum temporarily went the Lions way when on their very next offensive play; Laughlin hit Drew Formica with a 71 yard touchdown and clawing to within 10 at 17-7. However any chance O’Hara had of a comeback were immediately thwarted by Wood’s defense. A host of Vikings sacked Laughlin for a 12 yard loss on their next series and swinging the momentum back Wood’s way.
The clincher for the Vikings was their next drive, which took up six minutes and ending with Peoples third touchdown of the night from the two yard line.
Just prior to game’s end Wood coach Steve Devlin got the water cooler treatment and immediately realized that the championship was theirs.
Wood is a team to watch as they move on. Besides Peoples, their defense and offensive line looked nothing short of sensational. There are not many weaknesses on this team. Quarterback Joey Monahan is very effective running the offense and their passing game will work when they need it. The OLine with guys like Frank Taylor, Brandon Archidiacono, Rory Clark, Chris Knott and Colin Thompson are all imposing. The defense had Laughlin on his heals all night, sacking him four times (two by Thompson).
In addition to his three TD’s, Peoples ran for 180 well earned yards and can score from anywhere on the field.
O’Hara finished the season losing only two (both to Wood) and would give any team in the state a difficult game. They played their hearts out and deserve credit for a great season including five shutouts. Wood now goes on to play the Public league champion Murrell Dobbins Tech for the D12, AAA championship at a venue to be determined.