Isn’t it fun sometimes to turn on a football video game, say maybe NCAA ’10, and play an entire season with a juggernaut football team just to see what stats and numbers you can pile up? But the difference is, that’s a video game. The only thing gained are maybe some bragging rights (if you beat some friends with the team) and a story to tell that few will likely believe.
Allentown Central Catholic, however, has been putting up ridiculous, almost video-game-esque numbers week after week after week. Just a suggestion, but maybe the Vikings should change the name of their offense from the “spread” to the “grand slam,” because they are always capable of hitting the proverbial home run on the gridiron from anywhere at any time.
The Vikings will face District 3 champion Bishop McDevitt (13-2) Friday evening at HersheyPark Stadium for the PIAA AAA state championship, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. ACC is facing a McDevitt team that overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat speedy and lightning-quick District 10 champion Erie Cathedral Prep in the Western Finals.
In the last two seasons, Allentown Central Catholic has reasserted itself among the elite AAA programs in the state of Pennsylvania, posting a 27-2 overall record and winning consecutive District 11 championships, the eighth and ninth District crowns in school history. In a way, it’s almost funny to think of having to include the word “reasserting” when discussing ACC as a state power. During the 1990s, the Vikings were among the elites in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, along with Berwick, Strath Haven and Manheim Central (Each AAA Eastern Final from 1992 to 2001 featured matchups of two of those four programs).
During the ’90s, ACC won District 11 championships in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998, appeared in the 1993, 1996 and 1998 Eastern Finals and won a pair of PIAA titles (1993 and 1998). That all occurred under current Parkland head coach Jim Morgans, who has won more than 200 games in his career. Central Catholic defeated Blackhawk 40-0 in 1993 and Moon Township 10-0 in 1998 – becoming the only PIAA affiliate team to win each of its state championship game appearances via shutout. Only one other PIAA affiliate has multiple shutouts in state championship games – the Rochester Rams of the WPIAL, with two.
If Central Catholic wins Friday, it will join Thomas Jefferson as the only other PIAA affiliate to post a 3-0 record in state championship games.
ACC owns two of District 11′s three AAA state titles – the other belongs to Bethlehem Catholic, who won the 1990 crown with a 43-7 pounding of Seton-LaSalle. Overall, District 11 is 3-2 in AAA state title games – with Pottsville claiming consecutive losses in 2005 and 2006. In PIAA title games overall, District 11 is 10-8 (.555), last winning in 2008 when Bethlehem Liberty defeated Bethel Park, 28-21, in overtime.
Back in the ’90s, ACC plowed and powered through opponents with the Delaware Wing-T. Now, the Vikings flash and dash their way by you with one of the most potent spread offenses to ever emerge from the Lehigh Valley.
Central Catholic has scored a Lehigh Valley-record 635 points through 15 games, topping the previous standard set in 2006 by the PIAA AAAA runner-up Bethlehem Liberty Hurricanes (618). ACC’s 2010 season scoring output ranks 14th in state history and only trails the 2008 Schuylkill Haven Hurricanes (670 points) in District 11 history. ACC is averaging 42.3 points per game and has only been held below 30 points in one game this season (Whitehall, Week 6, held the Vikings to 21 points). The only other opponent with any success in limiting the scoring damage done to it was Downingtown East, who yielded 30 points to ACC in a Week 1 loss (30-21). The green and yellow have scored 40+ points in eight games and 50+ points in five.
And the keys to ACC’s engine, the straw to ACC’s drink, ACC’s engineer to the out-of-control freight train that averages 436.8 yards of offense per game, is junior quarterback Brendan Nosovitch. Physically, Nosovitch stands in at 6’3 and weighs 195 pounds. But he’s put up statistics, both this season and in his career, that make him about the size of football’s equivalent of a Ruthian giant.
It’s a pick-your-poison type of scenario for opposing defenses. Nosovitch has completed 170-of-290 passes for 2,876 yards and 42 touchdowns and added 191 rushing attempts for 1,600 yards and 22 additional touchdowns. In his career, Nosovitch has thrown for more than 5,200 yards and run for more than 2,760. His 66 career passing touchdowns rank him in a tie for 18th in state history with former LaSalle College quarterback John Harrison (2004-’07). As a sophomore, Nosovitch threw for 2,078 yards, ran for 1,163 and totaled 41 touchdowns combined rushing and passing, leading ACC to the AAA quarterfinals before bowing to Selinsgrove, 31-10.
Nosovitch is already attracting interest from major Division-1 football programs, according to Rivals.com, from programs like UCONN, Duke, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Stanford and UCLA. Penn State is rumored to have verbally offered Nosovitch a scholarship.
Nosovitch is joined in the backfield by a sophomore named Colin McDermott, who has run for 1,648 yards and 16 touchdowns on 228 carries. McDermott was a non-factor against Archbishop Wood, but has been a nice compliment to Nosovitch in the spread attack who has, rather quietly, amassed his yardage. McDermott is on pace to run for more than 4,900 yards in his career.
When Nosovitch airs the ball out, he has a number of quality targets to throw to, namely junior Kevin Gulyas (71 rec., 1,220 yards, 18 TD), Jack Sandherr (27, 426, 5), Jalen Snyder-Scipio (23, 393, 6), Shane McNeely (20, 309, 6) and Noah Robb (14, 241, 3). McNeely sustained a leg injury in the Eastern Final against Archbishop Wood and did not return to the game.
Defensively, ACC is led by Teddy Airoldi (57 tackles, 4 sacks), G.B. Harkins (52 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries), Jared Pitts (21 tackles, 5 sacks), Snyder-Scipio (18 tackles, 5 INT) and Robb (41 tackles, 2 sacks). The Vikings have given up some points this season (ACC allows an average of 14.8 points per game between first string and reserves combined), but are more than compensated when the ball changes hands back to the offense.
Can Allentown Central Catholic cement itself in the discussion as one of the greatest Lehigh Valley football teams with a PIAA championship to go along with all its other impressive stats? Find out Friday night.