Even as a great team, there are going to be some tough games on the schedule for a variety of reasons. While Archbishop Wood surpasses Frankford in quality, the Pioneers are still a tough out due to their athleticism. It wasn't easy the whole way, but talent and experience won out.
Wood got all it could handle from Frankford in the first half, but the Vikings eventually pulled away to down the Pioneers 42-14 in Saturday's non-league action. Solid performances by Jarrett McClenton (three touchdowns) and Josh Messina (two touchdowns) propelled Wood in a win that had a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball. After their latest non-conference win, the Vikings are now 3-0 on the young season.
"It's tough to play a team like Frankford, so you have to attack them a little differently,' Wood coach Steve Devlin said. "You have to read and execute. We pride ourselves on being a disciplined team and for the most part I think we were tonight.'
Wood got off to a fast start on the offense. After Messina pounded the Frankford defense for a few plays, Tom Garlick hit the Vikings' running back on a screen pass that went four yards for the touchdown. The Wood attack seemed to be flowing, but the Frankford defense played fairly well in the opening 12 minutes and did not allow another score for the remainder of the quarter.
"We just wanted to come out and see what they were going to do, and once we figured it out, we were fine,' Devlin said. "We realized how we had to attack them. At the beginning of a football game, it's always a chess match anyway. Once we got adjusted, we capitalized on their mistakes.'
The tough part about playing Wood is that it can beat you on offense or defense. Even when Frankford had some encouraging moments on both sides of the ball, the Vikings had an answer. The Pioneers forced a Wood three-and-out, no easy task, but the positives stopped there.
Just before the end of the first quarter, two-way specialist McClenton picked off Marquise Poston for a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 14-0 lead. Still, the scoreboard did not indicate the battle that was going on between the two teams.
"It's really important to be a two-way player because not every team has guys that can play both offense and defense well,' McClenton said. "After a quarter and a half, we started playing our defense. We weren't really set up before that. Once we got set, we stopped them and scored more.'
Wood found a bit more success in the running game in the second quarter. McClenton showed his speed on two separate touchdown runs on consecutive drives. The first one went for 27 yards and the second for 47 as the Vikings took it to a team that killed itself with penalties and a lack of execution. You can't give a team like Wood extra plays and that's what Frankford was doing.
However, the Pioneers are an athletic team with a number of offensive weapons. Right before halftime, Frankford recovered a Wood fumble on a punt that gave it good field position with about 30 seconds left. Poston turned that into points, tossing a touchdown strike to Shareef Miller to put the Pioneers on the board. Wood was in control, but Frankford gave itself some hope heading into the second half.
Wood finished the Pioneers off in the third quarter. Quelling any potential momentum swing, Garlick tossed a pair of touchdown passes to invoke the running clock rule. The first was from seven yards out to Messina, and the second a bootleg strike to Joe Dutkiewicz. Frankford scored a touchdown and had some success at the beginning of the fourth, but there was no chance of a comeback.
There are certainly things to work on after this game, but for now the Vikings will take a 3-0 non-conference record before heading into the Philadelphia Catholic League schedule.
"We are 3-0, but we have to get a lot better,' Devlin said. "We have to do a lot of things better and execute better. We have a tough stretch coming up, but that is going to make us a better team at the end of the year.'
Archbishop Wood 14 14 14 0—42
Frankford 0 7 0 7—14
AW: Garlick 4 pass to Messina (McDonald kick)
AW: McClenton 25 INT return (McDonald kick)
AW: McClenton 27 run (McDonald kick)
AW: McClenton 47 run (McDonald kick)
F: Poston 36 pass to Miller (Cooper kick)
AW: Garlick 7 pass to Messina (McDonald kick)
AW: Garlick 32 pass to Dutkiewicz (McDonald kick)
F: Poston 8 pass to Herrera Jr. (Cooper kick)
First Downs 5 8
Rushing Yards 175 103
Passing Yards 62 44
Total Yards 237 147
Fumbles/lost 2:1 2:0
Punt/avg 3-35 5-30
Penalty yards 2-10 5-35
Archbishop Wood: Messina 9-106; McClenton 5-80, 2 TDs; Spahits 2-4; Garlick 3-(-17); Barrett 2-7; Schwartz 1-(-3); Dutkiewicz 1-(-2).
Frankford: Poston 9-63; Samuels 11-(-13); Ellis 5-51; Candelario 4-0; Debnam 1-2.
Archbishop Wood: Garlick 6-8, 62, 3 TDs
Frankford: Poston 2-16, 44, TD
Archbishop Wood: Messina 3-17, 2 TDs; Dutkiewicz 1-32, TD; Clayton 1-4; Ruben 1-9.
Frankford: Miller 1-36, TD; Herrera Jr. 1-8, TD.