CARDINAL O'HARA 36, BONNER-PRENDERGAST 35
It wasn't just an improbable, come-from-behind victory versus a neighborhood rival that left Gabe Cordes overcome with emotion.
Following Cardinal O'Hara's 36-35 overtime triumph Saturday afternoon against Bonner-Prendergast, the senior lineman and his teammates signed and presented the game ball to Cordes' father, Mark, who is batting heart cancer.
"He's going through so much," Gabe Cordes said. "It's an amazing feeling to win this game and have him here to enjoy it."
Earlier in the week, Mark Cordes, 57, was released from the hospital after a 22-day stay. A former football player at O'Hara and Villanova, he spent the last 15 days at Lankenau Medical Center.
"This is the greatest game I've ever seen or participated in," Mark Cordes said while addressing O'Hara's players in a postgame huddle. "From the bottom of my heart, this is the greatest gift I've ever received."
While helping the Lions prevail in the Catholic League Class AAA contest at Upper Darby, Gabe Cordes, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound nose guard, blocked a pair of extra-point kicks. The second, after the Friars had scored to begin the extra session, ended up being the difference.
"He had an outstanding game today," said Mark Cordes, who was a tight end at O'Hara and offensive tackle at Villanova. "I'm filled with pride and joy."
This is Mark Cordes' second bout with cancer. Before the recent setback, he was in remission for two years from lung cancer.
"Now, they find cancer in my heart," said the Drexel Hill resident, who was part of O'Hara's city-championship squad in 1973. "I have a mass inside my heart, and I'm battling that."
Gabe Cordes registered four tackles against Bonner-Prendie, including a third-quarter sack. He sat out the last six weeks due to a torn labrum and concussion. He returned to practice Tuesday.
Down by 29-14, the Lions (3-5, 1-1 Catholic AAA) scored twice in the last 7 minutes of regulation. A 15-play, 70-yard drive, with Dashawn Darden finding Thaddius Smith on a 5-yard fade at 0:03, was followed by Chris Colvin's conversion catch.
The Friars (2-6, 1-1) took the lead in OT on Tyler Higgins' 10-yard grab. O'Hara responded, on fourth and goal, with J.T. Blyden's 2-yard run. Steve Weyler's PAT broke the tie and set off the visitors' celebration.
"I never lost hope when we were down, but I had my doubts," Gabe Cordes admitted. "Our offense came through when we needed it."
With his ailing father watching, Cordes did as well. Not once but twice.
Cardinal O'Hara 7 0 0 22 7-36
Bonner-Prendergast 8 7 7 7 6-35
CO: J.T. Blyden 2 run (Steve Weyler kick)
BP: Mike Ockimey 40 pass from Collin DiGalbo (kick blocked)
BP: Rickey Wilson 1 run (Adam Robinson kick)
BP: Wilson 17 run (Robinson kick)
CO: Dashawn Darden 1 run (Weyler kick)
BP: DiGalbo 31 run (Robinson kick)
CO: Chris Colvin 10 pass from Darden (Weyler kick)
CO: Thaddius Smith 5 pass from Darden (Lamont Veal pass from Darden)
BP: Tyler Higgins 10 pass from DiGalbo (kick blocked)
CO: Blyden 2 run (Weyler kick)