by Jonathan Vander Lugt
After two weeks and 101 points scored, it’s safe to say that the talent-laden offense of Springside Chestnut Hill is going to be coach Rick Knox’s calling card in 2018.
With 56-46 and 45-18 wins over Father Judge and Central High School, respectively, the only question is whether or not the Blue Devils can get their defense shored up.
“We have a lot of different weapons,” Knox said. “We have two good receivers, two good backs and an experienced quarterback. We’re a tough offense to get wraps on.”
Running back Rob Gentile has 241 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in just two games. Backfield mate Aaron Rascoe added another 62 yards on just six carries against Central, and receivers Pat Elliott and Ke’Shawn Williams have combined for 339 yards and seven offensive touchdowns (Elliott added another on an interception return against Judge).
Helming the offense is senior Aaron Angelos, who is off to a terrific start as well. In two games, he’s completed two-thirds of his passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns, to go along with another two scores on the ground.
“Our offense is definitely meshing,” Angelos said. “When we have so many skill guys with a great o-line around us, we expect to put up a lot of points.”
The rub, though, is consistency. After an interception on the first play Friday – though calling it an interception isn’t fair to Angelos, as the Central defender made a terrific play to rip the ball from Williams’ hands – the SCH defense let Central march down the field and score.
“Every single play in a game can be a big one,” Knox said. “You have to be consistent all the time and ready to execute every play.”
SCH keyed in to notch five unanswered touchdowns: a one-yard sneak by Angelos, a 10-yard Williams score, a 34-yard Rascoe trot, a 40-yard Williams TD catch and a five-yard Gentile run. Meanwhile, the defense registered two sacks, forced five punts and recovered a fumble by the end of the first half.
“We have good defensive players,” Knox said. “It’s just that we’ve got a few new pieces there, so they’ve got to grow.”
Up big heading into the second half, the Blue Devils relaxed again. Central took the kick and marched 77 yards to score, capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. Two drives later, Central was backed up to third-and-26 from its own 16 yard-line, only to reel off a 72 yard pass that set up a score four plays later.
“It’s about focus. You have to execute what we practice during the week,” Knox said. “On the majority of plays, we’ve played strong defense – we’ve just got to stop the mental mistakes that lead to big plays.”
The malaise even befell Knox from time to time. In his first week back teaching (and the team’s first week back in school), the added workload and hot week contributed to sluggish direction at times.
“I messed up a couple times – it really is an adjustment coming back to school for the first week,” Knox said. “But in whatever sport you’re doing, you’ve got to learn how to overcome those obstacles.”
Next week against Roman Catholic, he’ll have a potent offense and tight-knit team to help him. Against Central, the aforementioned Rascoe played in his first game since mid-season last year, and though the junior will have some growing pains on each side of the ball, he figures to add a dimension to an offense that might be SCH’s best since its 8-2 season in 2014.
“Early in the season, it’s about building repetitions so you have the muscle memory late when the stakes are higher,” Knox said. “These guys really enjoy being around each other, and they’re really tight-knit.”
“That’s what makes me the happiest,” Knox said.
Around the League:
It was a mixed bag for Northwest Philadelphia’s other squads, as Germantown Academy rolled to a win while La Salle and Penn Charter each lost.
The Patriots, in their week-two tilt against Frankford High School, dominated the Yellow Jackets. Trae Vance ran for 103 yards a score on 15 carries, while sophomore quarterback Jordan Longino accounted for four touchdowns (two through the air, two on the ground), while tallying 130 yards on 9-of-15 passing. GA plays at Father Judge next week.
La Salle, against the defending Inter-Ac champ Malvern Prep, lost 35-23. Senior running back Manny Quiles, in his first game of 2018, ran for 78 yards on 11 carries. Quiles, typically overshadowed by other backs in his sophomore and junior seasons, figures to play a large role in the Explorer offense provided he remains healthy. Elsewhere, Kahlil Ashley-Diarrah caught two passes for 118 yards and a score. The Explorers will look for their first win against the Haverford School next week.
Penn Charter struggled against Conwell-Egan Catholic in a 41-14 loss. Eagle running back Patrick Garwo ran wild, torching the PC defense for 213 yards and three scores on 18 carries. Quaker quarterback Kyle Jones struggled in his second game, throwing three interceptions among 48 yards on 7-of-20 passing. The lone bright spot heading into next week’s tilt at Central High School was the play of Temple-bound running back Edward Saydee, who ran for 169 yards on just 15 carries.
Thanks to TedSilary.com for information used in this article.