JARRETT MCCLENTON was a little too close for comfort as a punt rolled near the Archbishop Wood sideline in the second quarter while the Vikings coaches strongly encouraged their star running back to get away from the loose ball.
McClenton, a 5-8, 165-pound speedster, had already scored on a 59-yard punt return - part of his 173-yard, three-touchdown performance (all in the first half).
However, with Great Valley defenders crowded around the ball, McClenton likely had nowhere to go even if he had picked up the ball.
"You're not that good," head coach Steve Devlin said with a smile. "You're not bad, but you're not that good!"
Good-natured sarcasm notwithstanding, McClenton was darn good Friday night in Wood's 44-7 throttling of District 1's Great Valley in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals at Charles Martin Memorial Field in Northeast Philly.
McClenton, a Villanova commit, scored on rushes of 65, 19 and 2 yards. And, with the offense more than spoken for, junior linebacker Mack Schwartz took care of the defense.
The 6-3, 215-pounder from Doylestown recovered two fumbles, added a pair of sacks and invaded the Patriots' backfield all day.
"We were just getting through really clean," Schwartz said. "The d-line was getting a really good push, so it was easy to get through the line."
Certainly not as difficult as chasing McClenton at practice, right?
"Oh, jeez, he's got some moves," Schwartz said with a smile. "A lot of broken ankles out there and getting it from the defensive coordinator like no other.
"He is an absolutely player, you know?" he said. "It's hard to find people to handle that kind of breakaway speed. You could see on that one play, once he gets going, it's hard to stop. You think he's small, but he can lay a hit on you, too."
In Friday night's PIAA AAA quarterfinal, Schwartz and senior Nafeez Brown-Carter supplied plenty of hits for the District 12 champs.
The defensive effort was made more impressive, because Wood was without injured seniors linebacker Jake Cooper (Penn State) and defensive lineman Devon Cobb.
"We were down some guys without Coop, and we were a little nervous, because we thought we might be off, but all week we all came through," Schwartz said. "A lot of guys came to play, and it all came together out there."
Juniors Sebastian Silva (fumble recovery) and Ryan Barrett were also major disruptors.
Offensively, senior running back Alex Arcangeli had 77 yards and a score, while Barrett also added a 15-yard rushing score.
Wood led, 30-0, after one quarter and outgained Great Valley on the ground, 300-47, at the half. Ryan Hubley returned a fumble 56 yards for GV's only tally, making the halftime score, 37-7.
The state semifinals are next for Wood (12-1), which will face the winner of Saturday's matchup of Somerset vs. Bethlehem Catholic.