Bishop Shanahan relishes underdog status vs. Downingtown East

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Bishop Shanahan quarterback Dan DiBeneditto runs the ball in last Friday’s 28-10 win over West Chester East.

Even though Bishop Shanahan is 4-0 and has won by an average margin of 25 points, Dan DiBeneditto knows few people outside the program expect the Eagles to upend Downingtown East.

“You have to embrace the role of being an underdog,” the senior quarterback said. “We’re used to it when it comes to playing the likes of Downingtown East, Downingtown West, and Coatesville.”

Fellow unbeatens Shanahan and Downingtown East, both 1-0 in the Ches-Mont League National Division, will clash at 7 p.m. Friday night at Jack Mancini Field.

DiBeneditto and the Eagles opened with victories over West Philadelphia (48-6), Glen Mills (28-16), Pottstown (35-7), and West Chester East (28-10). Last year’s squad won its first five games.

“We have a decent amount of experience, good team chemistry, and we put in a lot of work over the summer,” DiBeneditto said.

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior captain has connected on 27 of 54 passes for 373 yards and five touchdowns.

“He’s a very good leader, a hard worker, and he has all the tools you want in a quarterback,” Shanahan coach Paul Meyers said.

DiBeneditto had to wait his turn to play QB. Nick Skulski, now a freshman at Salisbury University in Maryland, directed the offense the last two seasons.

“We have pretty similar playing styles,” DiBeneditto said. “When it’s needed, we both can run the ball for yardage.”

DiBeneditto, who rotated in as defensive back last season, is a three-sport athlete. The 18-year-old is a point guard in basketball and a centerfielder in baseball.

The southpaw’s primary targets on the gridiron are Andrew Smyth, a halfback and slot receiver, and wideouts Dan Bathon and Tom Waite.

Halfback Connor Whalen has carried 61 times for 373 yards and five scores. The offensive line is anchored by center Mike Robinson, guards Ryan McLaughlin and Danny McGinn, tackles Mac Barry and Kevin Jones, and tight end Zane Monroe.

Shanahan’s defense is headed by ends McLaughlin and J.P. Kennedy, linebackers Waite and Liam Dearing, cornerback Steve Sweeney, and safety Smyth.

Three years ago, Shanahan defeated Downingtown East (4-0) for the first time with a 17-10 home triumph.

DiBeneditto, who played youth football for the Downingtown Young Whippets, plans to concentrate on baseball and major in business in college.

Gunther to return

Malvern Prep QB Drew Gunther sat out Saturday’s 28-10 loss to Pope John XXIII (N.J.) with what Friars coach Dave Gueriera said was a mild concussion.

Gueriera said he expects Gunther to return for Friday night’s nonleague matchup against visiting McDonogh (Md.), which is ranked No. 2 in the East region behind St. Joseph’s Prep by USA Today. The 6-3, 195-pound junior has drawn interest from Boston College, Duke, Penn State, and Wake Forest.

Freshman Lonnie White hit on 6 of 14 throws for 97 yards and a score vs. Pope John XXIII. “He runs like a deer, has a strong arm,” Gueriera said. “He has a bright future.”


Camera icon Charles Fox
Malvern Prep quarterback Drew Gunther is expected back in the lineup for Friday’s huge non-league game against McDonogh (Md.). CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Extra points

Northeast will visit Central in a Public League Independence Division contest Thursday at noon. … Marple Newtown’s Anthony Paoletti has completed 53 of 98 passes for 816 yards and five TDs. Tigers outside linebacker Luke Jelus (29) and end Kyle Tobin (27) have combined to make 56 tackles. … Garnet Valley’s Matt Lassik has rushed 75 times for 448 yards and five scores. … Central Bucks South linebacker Matt Norris has notched 47 tackles, including 26 solos. … North Penn’s Justis Henley, a do-everything speedster who committed to Delaware last week, has made 18 catches for 348 yards and three TDs. He has converted 10 of 21 passes for 182 yards and three scores. … Pope John Paul’s Matt DeLaurentis has hit on 49 of 90 throws for 651 yards and seven TDs. He has also rushed for five scores for the 4-0 Golden Panthers. Teammate Dan Cirino has 20 catches for 357 yards and three TDs.