Bensalem is determined to earn first football playoff berth

Bensalem senior captains (from left) Rob Harris, Vince Citrino, and Keith Parrish.

At 3-0, Bensalem is off to a strong start in its bid to take care of unfinished business on the gridiron.

Last year, the Owls’ opportunity to qualify for the PIAA District 1 playoffs for the first time was thwarted in the final week of the regular season. They were left on the outside looking in when they were nipped by Bucks County neighbor Harry S Truman, 44-43.

Bensalem did achieve a major turnaround last year. It snapped a 29-game losing skid (it went 0-11 in 2014 and 0-10 in 2015) with a Week 2 victory.

Ed Cubbage’s squad has opened the 2017 campaign with nonleague victories over Frankford (20-14), William Tennent (19-14), and Archbishop Carroll (28-27).

Of the three road wins coming by a combined 12 points, Cubbage said with a laugh, “We don’t make it easy on ourselves.”

The Owls also have a flair for the dramatic.Trailing Carroll by 27-26 after their second-overtime tally, they went for a two-point conversion and won on Drasaun Moore’s conversion toss to Jarred O’Connell.

On the decisive play, after a botched exchange with Keith Parrish on a speed sweep, Moore alertly scooped up the ball, rolled left toward the sideline and, with Carroll’s Raphael Manning bearing down on him, found O’Connell.

“Almost all of our games last season were decided in the last quarter, so we’re used to it,” Cubbage said.

Cubbage, who was an offensive lineman at Father Judge (class of 1990) and played rugby at Indiana University, directs a triple-option attack headed by Moore and running backs O’Connell, Parrish, and Rob Harris.

The 5-foot-7, 155-pound Parrish, an explosive ballcarrier, also plays basketball and baseball. On the diamond last season, the centerfielder and leadoff man batted .462 and scored 16 runs.

The charge up front is led by guard Vince Citrino (6-5, 335), center Dan Garcia (5-8, 230), and tackle Erik Orellana (6-2, 230). Citrino, a top-notch student, has drawn interest from Lafayette, Lehigh, and Villanova.

Bensalem’s 3-5 defense is spearheaded by end Ken St. Clair, linebackers O’Connell, Elijah Jackson and Nadir Smith, and backs Parrish and Justin Webb.

O’Connell did not leave the field against Frankford and Carroll. “He never tires,” Cubbage said. “He has a constant motor.”

The Owls, who went 5-5 overall and 2-4 in the Suburban One League National Conference last year, open league play at 7 p.m. Friday at Abington (2-1).

Game scratched

Germantown Academy (2-1) opted out of its scheduled nonleague game vs. Neumann-Goretti (1-0) on Saturday afternoon.

When asked Tuesday why the Patriots had canceled the contest, GA coach Matt Dence would only say, “It’s not the right thing for our team. We need to do what’s in the best interest of our kids.”

N-G first year coach Albie Croby learned of GA’s decision Monday. “I’m a little surprised,” he said. “They said that it’s a case of two teams going in different directions. I don’t fully understand it, but I have to respect it.”

In its season opener last Saturday, N-G stormed past visiting Interboro, 54-25. The Saints rallied from a 25-6, second-quarter deficit.

N-G shut down its season last October because of a shortage of players and concerns about injuries. The Saints dropped a 44-0 decision to GA in Week 4, finished 0-6 overall, and went 0-4 in the Catholic League Blue Division.

This year, N-G has taken some heat for adding several talented transfers in the offseason, including 6-7, 335-pound lineman Justin Johnson, an Oregon recruit, and running back Chris Wells, both formerly of Imhotep Charter, and running back Leddie Brown, a West Virginia recruit who was previously at Smyrna (Del.).

The Saints, who have a roster of about 45 players, were able to find an opponent for this weekend. They are slated to visit Northeast at 3 p.m. Friday.

“I’m actually glad they found another game,” Dence said. “I wish them the best. I hope they have a great season.”