by Jonathan Vander Lugt
What can’t Germantown Academy’s junior quarterback Kyle McCloskey do?
The southpaw can run. He can pass. He even plays a pretty mean point guard come winter. Really, anything that you ask him to do on a football field is probably within his range of capabilities.
He could probably even throw right-handed if he needed to, but that remains yet unknown. What isn’t a mystery, however, is the role he plays for GA’s football Patriots.
Without much of a traditional running game to speak of, the Pats needed him to come up big, and he delivered, getting involved in all three of his team’s touchdowns and gaining 297 total yards in GA’s 21-12 win over Springside Chestnut Hill.
“My line gave me a lot of time, my receivers got open, and when I saw holes, I hit them,” McCloskey said.
It was a good thing too – GA’s feature back, KJ Cartwright, struggled to get much going and finished with just 25 yards on 14 carries. Nick Picariello, the team’s primary backup, got 21 yards on 10.
McCloskey, on the other hand, tallied 98 – more than twice as many – in 16 tries. His 199 through the air on 11-of-19 passing didn’t hurt either.
“It’s a bit different coverage when it’s a pass, rather than run,” he said, offering a bit of explanation as to why he was able to rumble forward on the ground, but not his backs. “They’d drop into coverage, and I was just able to go.”
That’s not to discredit Cartwright and Picariello – they wouldn’t have kept getting the ball if coach Matt Dence and Co. didn’t think they could run.
“KJ ran really hard,” McCloskey said. “The holes just weren’t there all the time. Sometimes you’ll have games like that, but he’s played great all year so I expect him to come back.”
GA’s even given him a bit of freedom as it regards to play calling. Early in the fourth, the Pats lined up ready for a run play, and saw that SCH was gearing up at the line.
“We checked it from the sideline, saw the defense open up, and Jimmy (McAfee) is one of my favorite receivers – he’s fast and he’s got great hands – and I put it up for him,” McCloskey said.
“He just caught it and finished the run,” he went on. That run would turn out to be a 62-yard touchdown, making it a two-possession ball game.
“It was a great feeling to put it up there,” he added.
That score put GA up 21-12, and though the Blue Devils put together a couple of initially-promising drives, the Pats were able to hang on to the win.
Was this, a 297-yard, three-touchdown performance McCloskey’s best of the year?
“I’d have to watch the film, but he played pretty well,” Dence said. “He did some really great things.
He’s always going to want to improve, but he played pretty darn well – that’s why we’re 6-0.”
The win was a big one for GA, its first in Inter-Ac play.
“It’s huge,” McCloskey said. “We lost to these guys last year, and I had a bit of revenge that I had to get, because I was out with a concussion then. I had to sit.”
“To start the year with a win is big,” he went on. “It keeps our (six-game, to start the year) winning streak going, and even though it wasn’t the prettiest win, it was really important for us to start 1-0 in the league.”
Springside Chestnut Hill had a pretty similar story, but without the happy ending. The only player that could really do much was QB Matt Rahill, who finished with 245 yards through the air and both of SCH’s touchdowns.
Without Temple-bound lineman Darian Bryant, who was out with a one-game suspension after getting ejected in the last game, the Blue Devils struggled to get much of anything going on the ground and to keep the refs from throwing yellow flags.
“It’s just talking about it and figuring it out,” SCH coach Rick Knox said, about fixing his team’s woes, their eight penalties among them. “There’s no secret recipe. You go to any level of football, and there’s always too many penalties. There’s no potion – if there was, somebody would be selling it and there wouldn’t be any.”
“Offensively we’re just too inconsistent,” he added, offering further explanation for his team’s struggles. “We’d have a big play, then negative yards.”
Both teams will have to get it together in the coming weeks, because their schedule won’t get any easier. Left on the slate for each is a date with Malvern Prep, Haverford School, Episcopal Academy, and Penn Charter. PC is presently the only team with more than one loss.
“They’re all really good,” Dence said. “I watched Episcopal play Malvern last night (Friday). We’ve got to play better if we’re going to beat a team like that.”