Pennsbury makes a stand on way to district title

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District 1 champions: Pennsbury's players begin the celebration after the crucial defensive stop. Among them are Mason Houriet (65), Rob Daly (7), Mike Alley (12), Charles Snorweah (34), and Cody Tabeek (15).

A fixture on Pennsbury's stalwart offensive line, Austin O'Neill occasionally fills in on defense when the team opts for a goal-line package.

And O'Neill was called on for the last three plays of Coatesville's final drive, with the Red Raiders down by 7, in Saturday afternoon's PIAA District 1 Class AAAA final at Souderton.

O'Neill and company responded to the challenge. On fourth and goal from the 1 with less than a minute to go, shifty quarterback Jordan Young, on a left-side run, was gang-tackled at the line of scrimmage.

The successful stand (Coatesville had first and goal at the 7) gave the second-seeded Falcons a 21-14 victory and their first district championship since 2006.

"That was beyond exciting," O'Neill said. "A lot of people had picked Coatesville to win, so that added fuel to our fire."

O'Neill, a senior, is a third-year starter. Against the top-seeded Red Raiders, the 5-foot-11, 260-pound left guard helped the Suburban One League National Conference co-champs total 344 rushing yards on 57 attempts.

"Yeah, we mostly run the ball, but I like it," he said. "When you know what you have to do on most plays, it's just about being physical and aggressive."

Next for Pennsbury (13-1) is a state semifinal vs. St. Joseph's Prep (9-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Northeast's Charles Martin Memorial Stadium.

Against Coatesville, senior backs Charles Snorweah (33 carries for 204 yards) and Raheem Thompson (18 for 102) combined for 306 yards and two scores.

For the season, Snorweah, a 5-10, 170-pounder and a Rutgers recruit, has rushed for an area-high 2,608 yards and 37 touchdowns.

O'Neill was joined up front Saturday by fellow guard Chris Rupprecht, center Mason Houriet, tackles Maurice Stukes and Sam Raywood, and tight ends Vinnie Ratamess and Cody Tabeek. Luke Snyder chipped in at fullback.

O'Neill's twin brother, Jordan, starts at linebacker for Pennsbury. Against previously undefeated Coatesville, which came in averaging 36.5 points, he registered nine tackles, including three solos.

"Personality-wise, we're pretty similar," Austin O'Neill said. "We're close. Off the field, we hang out with a lot of the same people."

The other defensive standout vs. the Red Raiders (13-1) was strong safety/outside linebacker Greg Lichtenstein (11 tackles, with eight solos). The junior was part of the pack that stuffed Young on the clinching play.

Notes. Coatesville tailback Jalen Hudson carried 20 times for 125 yards and a score. . . . Young rushed 17 times for 37 yards and completed 6 of 12 passes for 74 yards. . . . Red Raiders linebacker Stephen Pawling posted 14 tackles, including seven solos, and recovered a muffed punt in the first quarter. Teammates Ricky Southcott, a strong safety, and Jay Stocker, a free safety, were both involved in 10 tackles. Linebacker Chris Jordan was next in line with eight stops, including a fourth-quarter sack.

End Asanti Rumph had two of Pennsbury's three first-quarter sacks. Fellow senior lineman Kevin James accounted for the other. . . . In a 2006 state semifinal, the Falcons fell to District 11's Bethlehem Liberty, 45-38, in four overtimes at Doylestown's War Memorial Field.


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