NESHAMINY 35, ABINGTON 14
Cole Creighton, a talented southpaw pitcher and outfielder, says he never considered focusing on baseball and putting football in the rearview mirror.
"I love both sports," the Neshaminy senior said. "There's nothing better than being out here at Heartbreak Ridge and playing with my friends."
Friday night, with Creighton returning a fumble for a score and adding an interception, the host Redskins punched a ticket to the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA championship game with a 35-14 romp over Abington.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Creighton, a four-year contributor for Mark Schmidt's squad, is a fixture at outside linebacker. He also plays wide receiver and returns punts.
"I like keeping busy," Creighton said. "Last summer, I mixed in playing baseball (for Tri-State Arsenal) and lifting weights for football. You get comfortable with that routine after a while."
Neshaminy, the No. 4 seed, will try for its first district crown since 2004 when it meets No. 11 North Penn at 7 p.m. Friday at Souderton.
In 2010, Creighton's freshman season, the Knights hammered the Redskins, 42-6, in the district final. "I can't wait to play them," he said. "I'm hoping we'll have a good week of practice, and that will set the tone for the game."
Against Abington, a rival in the Suburban One League National Conference, Neshaminy (12-1) totaled 286 rushing yards on 38 attempts.
Junior tailback D'Andre Pollard led the way, carrying 28 times for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He totaled 175 yards on 19 attempts before the break.
In the first quarter, senior fullback Denny Lord's 1-yard dive over the top and Pollard's 37-yard burst, following a recovery of a fumbled kickoff return, produced a 14-0 advantage.
Two more tallies in the second - Lord's 3-yard run out of a Wildcat formation and Creighton's 29-yard scoop and score - made it 28-0 at the break.
"Someone made a tackle in the backfield, and I saw the ball sitting there," said Creighton, who will play baseball at Stony Brook. "I went up, grabbed it, and just ran."
In holding the No. 8-seeded Ghosts (10-3) to 113 rushing yards through three quarters, Neshaminy's defense received support from ends Luke Carrezola and Dorian Arthur, nose guard Alex Nicolas, and linebacker Matt Bianchino.
The contest was stopped briefly in the second quarter as Neshaminy assistant coach Dave Ferrera, experiencing chest pains in the press box, was taken away by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
"Apparently, he's doing better," Schmidt said afterward. "He's alert. He did speak [by phone] a little bit to some people."
For Abington, senior tailback Craig Reynolds carried 18 times for 133 yards. He scored on a 39-yard run around right end in the third quarter.
Pollard's 12-yard, right-side dash late in the third quarter closed the scoring for the Redskins.
Abington 0 0 7 7-14
Neshaminy 14 14 7 0-35
N: Denny Lord 1 run (Dylan McDonald kick)
N: D'Ande Pollard 37 run (McDonald kick)
N: Lord 3 run (McDonald kick)
N: Cole Creighton 29 with fumble (McDonald kick)
A: Craig Reynolds 39 run (Sean Seidenburg kick)
N: Pollard 12 run (McDonald kick)
A: Juawine Sowell 66 run (Seidenburg kick)