Entering the 2013 season, La Salle was extremely inexperienced, and wasn't sure how its season would go. Nine games later and the Explorers are a one-loss team getting ready for the playoffs.
And junior Jimmy Herron is a big reason for that.
As one of only a few returning starters on the team this year, Herron impressed, and continued to do so against West Catholic, scoring three touchdowns — one defensive — while helping La Salle to a 45-12 win over the Burrs in a meeting of Philadelphia Catholic League teams on Saturday night at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
Herron caught touchdown passes from 53 and 13 yards out and returned an interception 47 yards for another score to help the Explorers to build a 29-point lead by halftime.
"I think we (the offense and the defense) feed off each other all the time,' said La Salle running back Jordan Meachum, who ran in two scores. "That pick-six by Jimmy (Herron) was great and I felt it on the sidelines with our entire offense. The defense played hard tonight.'
Herron's big night started with a 53-yard touchdown catch thanks to a perfect pass from Kyle Shurmur less than two minutes into the contest.
After the Burrs (7-2, 4-0), who are Class AA of the PCL, scored a touchdown of their own early in the second quarter, the Explorers went absolutely off, scoring 28 unanswered points before halftime.
Meachum ran a touchdown in from 53 yards out and minutes later, Shurmur ran one in from one yard out on a quarterback sneak. Meachum followed less than five minutes later with a one-yard touchdown run and Herron capped off the half with his pick-six late in the half.
"They were great tonight,' La Salle coach Drew Gordon said. "Our defense was great and we got good field position because they (West Catholic) don't have a good punting game and we were able to stop the run. We ran the ball well and we were able to get good field position all night.'
The Explorers also won the turnover battle, committing none themselves while West Catholic threw a pair of interceptions and also lost one fumble, all leading to La Salle points.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the game belonged to La Salle from the second quarter until the end.
"I think we're ready for the playoffs,' said Meachum, whose Explorers will host Father Judge next Friday night at 7 o'clock at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in a PCL Class AAAA semifinal. "I think this was one of our best games that we've played all season and I think if we can keep it up, we'll go far in the playoffs and hopefully toward the state championship.'
Gordon, while happy with the win, had other thoughts regarding his team's chances moving forward.
"We have to get a lot better,' he said. "We missed too many tackles and had too many holding penalties and it's been like that all season. Tonight was not better and I don't think we'll go very far if we keep that up.'
The Explorers were led by Meachum, who rushed 11 times for 84 yards and two scores to go along with his one catch for 15 yards. Nick Rinella rushed eight times for 38 yards and also caught one pass for nine.
"Jordan played well. He does a nice job and he's a tough runner and he had that nice touchdown run tonight,' Gordon said. "Without him and Nick (Rinella), we probably wouldn't be where we are right now.'
Shurmur completed 11 of 21 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns under center, while also running in a third. Along with his defensive score and two receiving touchdowns, Herron caught six passes for 99 yards.
Meachum, a junior, said he's very surprised by his team's success during this regular season and believes that the Explorers have a bright future.
"I'm very surprised that we are where we are considering our inexperience,' he said. "But we have this year and, of course, next year, so we're hoping for big things right now.'
West Catholic 0 6 0 6—12
La Salle 7 28 0 7—42
L — Herron 53 pass from Shurmur (Raczko kick)
W — Crumpton 51 pass from McCollum (run failed)
L — Meachum 53 run (Raczko kick)
L — Shurmur 1 run (Raczko kick)
L — Meachum 1 run (Raczko kick)
L — Herron 47 INT return (Raczko kick)
W — White 18 run (pass failed)
L — Herron 13 pass from Shurmur (Raczko kick)
West Catholic La Salle
First downs 9 16
Rushing yards 180 144
Passing yards 108 160
Total yards 288 304
Passing 8-21-2 11-21-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-55 5-47
Punts-Avg. 4-25.75 4-38.75
West Catholic: White 15-153, TD; Wortham 2-24; McCollum 5-10; Postley 1-0; TEAM 1-(-7).
La Salle: Meachum 11-84, 2 TD; Shurmur 4-6, TD; Walls 6-23; Brady 1-4; Herron 1-2; Buckley 2-2; Brooks 1-2; Ferguson 2-(-5); Rinella 8-38; TEAM 1-(-13).
West Catholic: 8-21-2, 108, TD.
La Salle: Shurmur 11-21-0, 160, 2 TD.
West Catholic: Crumpton 3-65, TD; Amara 4-41; White 1-2.
La Salle: Herron 6-99, 2 TD; Hardy 1-15; Walls 1-19; Rinella 1-9; Buckley 1-3; Walls 1-19; Meachum 1-15.
West Catholic: None. La Salle: Kerrigan, Herron.
West Catholic: Ukaha. La Salle: Coonahan.