by Si Affron
One year ago to the week, a Paul Dooley-led Springside Chestnut Hill Academy team dismantled an inferior Central High School squad at home by a final score of 35-14. This past Friday, for the return date at Central’s North Philadelphia field, SCH was again the victor, by a final score of 13-6, but the slugfest that occurred was far different from last year’s edition.
This year, it was the battle of each team’s #9’s, the number both teams’ quarterback wore. On the Springside sideline was new junior quarterback Matt Rahlil, whose two touchdown runs were the only offensive touchdowns of the entire game. And for Central was perhaps the best athlete on the field, senior quarterback Jeffrey Coplin, who was perhaps not as seasoned but was elusive and kept Central in the game all afternoon.
With help from Temple-bound left tackle Darian Bryant, who was by far the largest player on the field, it was Rahlil who won the game for his team. The departure of previous years’ quarterback Paul Dooley has made throwing the football more difficult for SCH, but Rahlil hit classmate Jack Cucinotta for a few important receptions, and looked effective taking the ball himself on designed quarterback keeper plays.
For Central, throwing the ball was perhaps even more difficult. Running the ball worked on and off for them, but SCH’s defense was simply too stifling, and their one touchdown came from a good interception and even better return all the way back by junior Colin Washington.
Central’s defense stood tall for much of the day, though, and with 3 minutes to go, they had the ball deep in their own territory, with a chance for Coplin to play hero and lead the team down the field for a game-tying score. His first throw was a 60-yard bomb right in the hands of his receiver, and for a moment it looked like when his offense really had to score, it would. But from there the drive stalled, and SCH was able to ice out the final moments of a closely contested matchup.
Still though, for Central it marks progress, and proof that the team is as improved as spectators in the stands commented. After a 2-win campaign last season, they seem poised to challenge in the Public League. For SCH, the win pushed them to 2-0, with next week’s matchup with Mastery Charter and an imposing Inter-Ac schedule looming.