Monday, March 30, 2015

A Closer Look: No. 5 St. Joe's Prep vs. No. 3 Archbishop Wood

A Closer Look: No. 5 St. Joe's Prep vs. No. 3 Archbishop Wood

A Closer Look: No. 5 St. Joe's Prep vs. No. 3 Archbishop Wood

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A Closer Look:  No. 5 St. Joe's Prep vs. No. 3 Archbishop Wood

Excluding a Week 2 hiccup versus high-powered Don Bosco Prep (N.J.), St. Joseph's Prep has outscored foes by a combined 125-40.

Archbishop Wood has been a wrecking machine from Week 1, winning five games by a total margin of 224-30.

That sets the stage for an intriguing Catholic League cross-division battle between the surging Hawks and juggernaut Vikings at 7 p.m. Saturday at William Tennent's Claude Lodge Field.

The Prep (3-1) is ranked No. 5 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer; Wood (5-0) comes in at No. 3.

The Hawks have thrived with a no-huddle, spread offense that features a number of speedy skill-position players, including junior John Reid and up-and-coming freshman De'Andre Swift.

The Vikings counter with a bruising ground game that is headed by junior Jarrett McClenton and senior Josh Messina.

Here is a closer look at Saturday's contest.

Twitter. Follow @ozoneinq for live updates.

Coaches. In his fourth season at the Prep, Gabe Infante is 24-13 (.649 winning percentage). Steve Devlin is 76-14 (.844) in seven seasons at Wood.

History. Wood leads the recent head-to-head series, 2-1. The Hawks, with the aid of Reid's 99-yard scoring return, won last year's meeting, 23-10.

One-two punch. McClenton (30 carries for 441 yards) and Messina (26 for 256) have combined to score 16 TDs.

Savvy leader. The Prep's Chris Martin, a 5-10, 185-pound senior, has connected on 44 of 67 throws for 564 yards and five scores. He is also a running threat out of a shotgun formation.

Up front. Wood's imposing offensive line is anchored by center Ryan Neher (6-3, 250), tackle Ryan Bates (6-5, 285), guard Deion Oliver (6-6, 290), and tight end Christian Lohin (6-3, 225).

On the rise. Swift is explosive as a running back and receiver. The rookie speedster scored both ways in last week's 42-7 romp over Catholic League Class AAAA rival Roman Catholic.

Efficient. Wood's Tom Garlick, a sophomore and second-year-starter, has converted 27 of 39 passes (69.2 percent) for 526 yards and six scores, with no interceptions.

Other options. On offense, the Prep can also turn to running backs Vince Moffett and Olamide Zaccheaus, and wideout Jawan McAllister.

Stalwarts. The Vikings' defense, which has yielded only 6 points per game, is keyed by ends Messina and Chris Gary, linebacker Jake Cooper, and backs Kendall Singleton and Luke Spahits.

Towing the line. The Hawks' solid defensive line is headed by tackles Joe DuMond and Jake Strain, and ends David DellaPorta and Ware Armen. DuMond, a sophomore, started the year at linebacker.

Sidelined. Due to injuries, Wood is missing junior offensive guard Shawn Scrogger and sophomore cornerback Gianni Cruel.

Also inactive. The Prep's Tom Johnson, a second-year starter at safety, is out with a stress fracture of the left foot.

Analysis. This has the makings of a classic. A lot will depend on Wood's ability, when Prep loads the box, to throw the ball. Look for Garlick to answer the call in the late going.

Pick. Wood, 26-21.

Rick O'Brien Inquirer Columnist
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About this blog
Rick O’Brien has been at The Inquirer since 1993, primarily covering high school sports in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Reach Rick at robrien@phillynews.com.

Rick O'Brien Inquirer Columnist
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