by Jonathan Vander Lugt
It’s fair to say that the Springside Chestnut Hill offense has impressed in 2019.
Coming into Saturday’s matchup against Archbishop Ryan, the Blue Devils had averaged a shade over 40 points per game. Junior quarterback A.J. Graham seemed to have found his sea legs, while senior do-it-all playmaker Ke’Shawn Williams was scoring touchdowns left and right.
Then came their game against the Raiders. If there were any doubts about SCH’s offensive firepower, it’s safe to say they have been resoundingly quelled.
The Blue Devils needed just seven offensive plays to go up 47-6 on the Raiders in what ended up being a 47-21 blowout victory.
“When you score 47 points and run the clock on the first play of the third quarter, there’s not that much to complain about,” said SCH head coach Rick Knox.
After the Raiders’ opening drive stalled, Graham found Williams, who juked a defender out of his shoes for a 55-yard catch-and-run TD on SCH’s first offensive play. Archbishop Ryan answered with a touchdown drive, but on the kick return, Williams took a pitch from Nick Weston, who initially received the kick, 77 yards to the house.
Another Ryan drive failed, and this time, senior running back Aaron Rascoe took charge. All he needed was two carries to go 74 yards and score.
Then, a bad snap on a Raider punt set SCH up with a first-and-goal from the four. Carnell Kemp punched it in with ease.
After another stalled Ryan drive, Graham found Williams again. This time, they connected for a 34-yard jump-ball TD.
On the ensuing possession, a second bad snap on a Raider punt led to more trouble. The ball dribbled all the way into the end zone for Jack Gentile to pick up, adding another touchdown to the ledger.
Graham took a knee to end the half before opening the third quarter with a 59-yard touchdown strike to Ivan Thorpe.
Seven plays, 47 points and a running clock after their final touchdown. With the exception of the second-half QB kneel, the SCH first-team offense either scored a touchdown or converted a first down on every single play it ran. Ryan managed to tackle them just once on a 36-yard Rascoe run.
“We have a lot of different weapons and we saw those guys today,” Knox said. “They’re super athletic and they’re hard to tackle.”
“It’s not just about them running around though,” he went on. “It’s about the whole rest of the team executing. If you look at what the first team did, it’s about as good as you can get.”
The Raiders, who started their varsity team until the game’s final play, tacked on a couple touchdowns while SCH was playing their second and third string in the game’s final quarter.
Graham finished the day with 153 yards and three scores on 4-of-4 passing, while Rascoe carried it twice for 74 yards and a score. Williams netted 89 receiving yards on his two touchdown catches, and another 96 and a TD on a pair of returns.
That’s the second straight three-score game for Williams (he has nine all-purpose TDs on the year) and the third straight week of improved play for Graham. After a wobbly first match against Father Judge, he has since passed for 538 yards and eight scores on 23-for-38 passing while adding a pair of touchdowns on the ground.
“For our offense to click the way it has been, we need him to play like he was today,” Knox said. “He just needs to make accurate throws and overdo it because he has playmakers around him.”
“He’s been a quarterback his whole life, so he knows what to do,” Knox continued. “But doing it in a game is a different story.”
He’ll have one more tune-up next week at The Hill School before he and his Blue Devils (4-0, 0-0) begin Inter-Ac play after a bye week.
“Experience takes away those jitters,” Knox said. “He knows how to execute on varsity and what we expect.”
SCH: 21 20 6 0: 47
AR: 7 0 0 14: 21
SCH: A.J. Graham 55 pass to Ke’Shawn Williams; Marco Goldberg PAT good (7-0; 8:02)
AR: Cole Lowe 47 pass to Rob McConnell; George Karusky PAT good (7-7; 5:22)
SCH: Williams 77 kick return; Goldberg PAT good (14-7; 5:08)
SCH: Aaron Rascoe 38 run; Goldberg PAT good (21-7; 0:07)
SCH: Carnell Kemp 4 run; Goldberg PAT good (28-7; 8:00)
SCH: Graham 34 pass to Williams; bad snap on PAT, 2pt failed (34-7; 5:15)
SCH: Jack Gentile fumble recovery in end zone; Goldberg PAT good (41-7; 3:42)
SCH: Graham 59 pass to Ivan Thorpe; bad snap on PAT, 2pt failed (47-7; 11:43)
AR: Lowe 83 pass to Jonathan Swift; Lowe to Swift 2pt good (47-15; 11:28)
AR: Lowe 14 pass to Swift; Lowe pass incomplete, 2pt failed (47-21; 3:35)
Around the Area:
The only other area team to play was Penn Charter, which easily handled Upper Dublin for its fourth win of the season.
The Quakers (4-0, 0-0) beat the Cardinals 56-0 on the road. An astounding eight PC players found the end zone Friday, and despite (or maybe because of) the blowout, no one stood out in particular fashion. Quarterback Kyle Jones went 2-for-2 for 66 yards and a score (each pass was to Aaron Maione), while Matthew Marshall ran eight times for 67 yards and a score. Ohifame Ijeboi tallied the most yards for PC, with 81 on 14 carries. Penn Charter will travel to Blair Academy next week before a bye week that precedes Inter-Ac play.
Elsewhere, Germantown Academy (3-0, 0-0) will resume play against the Lawrenceville School after a bye week. The Pats will then face Hatboro-Horsham before league play starts.
La Salle College High School will face St. Joe’s Prep in what will be perhaps the area’s most highly anticipated regular season game of the year. Each team is ranked in the top five in the state, with the Prep being ranked nationally. The game is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Wissahickon High School in Ambler. If you plan to attend, either use a rideshare app or arrive at least two hours early if you want to be able to park.