by Jonathan Vander Lugt
An old Quaker peace testimony states, “All bloody principles and practices, we, as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretense whatsoever.”
What then, would the Quakers of old make of the fairly recent game of gridiron football? It’s hard to tell, but, despite the use of their forebears’ pacifistic namesake, the football Quakers of William Penn Charter probably aren’t particularly concerned after their drubbing of Neumann-Goretti Saturday night.
PC dealt a whooping to the Saints – the final tally wound up being 40-14 – and hope to have found a bit of a rhythm after being held to just six points against Lansdale Catholic a week and a half ago.
“It was our first win, so that was nice,” running back Jake McCain said. “That, and putting up 40 points offensively is much better than last week. We have a nice spark going into next week, where we can hopefully do the same thing.”
“They’re a team that put up 42 points last week,” Penn Charter coach Tom Coyle said of the Saints. “Obviously, they’ve got some offensive weapons. We were trying to get them in a quandary. We brought more defensive guys into the box to keep their backs from getting loose.”
The Saints only scored a fairly standard 14 points in the first half, but were moving the ball well: they tallied 185 yards on offense in the first two frames, 157 through the air. The 6-foot-5-inch Emil Moody and 6-foot-3-inch Gregory Fuller, the team’s top two receivers, each had at least four inches on the backs covering them, and quarterback Brandon Pridgeon took full advantage early.
“I thought our defensive line did a really good job,” Coyle said. “Even though (Neumann-Goretti) scored late in the first half, I told our guys to not got get disappointed and not lose faith. We had to get after the quarterback, we did that, and it paid dividends in the second half.
He was right – the Quakers shut out the Saints in the third and fourth quarters and held them to just 56 yards of total offense.
On the other side of the ball, Penn Charter could do little wrong. Right off the bat, McCain and his Quaker cohorts rumbled down the field for a 72-yard opening touchdown drive, 56 of which were tallied by McCain via the ground.
An interception ended their next drive prematurely, but PC laid it on thick after scoring touchdowns on four of their next five drives (and six of the game’s remaining eight), putting the game well out of Neumann-Goretti’s reach by the end of the third quarter.
“Our line got a great push the whole game,” McCain said. “From the beginning, we were able to run all over them.”
“[Neumann-Goretti] has some real thick kids up front, but I thought our offensive line dominated,” he said. “We were really allowed to run it wherever we wanted.”
PC rumbled to 169 yards on the ground, bolstered by 125 out of the passing game. McCain ran for 95 and a score on 19 carries, while grabbing another score and 24 more yards on a pair of receptions.
Marqui Johnson had the second-largest share of carries, finishing with 62 yards rushing on 12 touches, and quarterback Michael Hnatkowski had quite a game for himself as well: the aforementioned 125 yards and four touchdowns on 7-of-11 passing.
“We were just focused the whole game,” Johnson said. “Last year, we’d let other teams get an advantage, but today we did a good job of staying focused, and it was nice to put them away.”
“What’s nice is they’re all different,” Coyle said of his stable of backs. “Jake’s like a thugger – but he’s sneaky fast once he gets loose and starts running downhill. Marqui’s a young kid, but he’s got the ability to go from anywhere on the field. We think he’s got some really bright days ahead of him.”
Up next for Coyle, McCain, Johnson, and crew is a trip to take on Bishop Shanahan for another non-conference tilt.
“We’re going to go in and focus on some fundamental things on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Coyle said. “Hopefully we’ll have a really big effort against Shanahan.”