It is going to take a little more than heavy-duty saw to cut down this wood.
The Lansdale Catholic football team knows its hands are full in the first round of the Philadelphia Catholic League Class AAA playoffs. But on 7p.m. Friday William Tennent, the Crusaders have a chance to end Archbishop Wood's five-year reign as division champ and move one step closer to their own Catholic League title.
Having lost to the Vikings (7-2, 3-0) 35-6 three weeks ago gives a little extra game tape to dwell over. The Crusaders (6-3, 0-3) understand what worked and what needs to improve if they are going to bring an end to a golden era of Wood football.
"Things you can get away with against lesser talent you cannot get away with against Wood,' Crusaders coach Tom Kirk said. "They have speed at every position. Not only are they the best team in our league, but one of the best teams in the state.'
The Crusaders most certainly will have to play four quarters of football. In the teams' regular season contest, the Vikings led 14-6 before scoring 21 unanswered points. Getting too far behind the powerhouse Vikings can cause all teams to divert from the original game plan and get off track. While the Crusader passing game behind junior quarterback Joe Pinzka has continually improved, the green and gold still want to control the clock with their group of running backs.
"We cannot be satisfied with playing one half,' Kirk said. "There is so many things you can come up with, but the bottom line is you try to take away what they do well and make them beat you with something other than what their strength is.'
The Crusaders also need to limit the big plays and quick scores. The Vikings hit several big plays in the most recent matchup, including a 90-yard run by Catholic League MVP Jarrett McClenton and a 99-yard pass from Tom Garlick to Mark Webb.
"Wood is too good to not understand the game change on any play,' Kirk said. "You have to play it one play at a time.'
Whether it was this week or the following, the road to a PCL AAA title was going to through the Vikings. The Crusaders know what is at stake and know the challenge coach Steve Devlin's group presents. But LC also knows games are not played on paper.
"They are better than us and I think we know that,' Kirk said. "But you still go out, play the game, and look up at the end and see what the score is. The prize is still the Catholic League championship game and in order to do that we have to beat Wood.''¢ '¢ '¢
The District One Class AAAA playoff field will be set after this weekend's games. Central Bucks West (7-2, 5-1 Suburban One League Continental) and North Penn (6-3, 6-0 SOL Continental) look to be locks to be part of the 16 teams in the district title race.
A win over Central Bucks South should almost solidify a home game for the Bucks. While the Knights will most likely take to the road, a loss to Souderton and a few wins by teams currently ranked lower than them could make for risky business. Last year, the Indians were held out of the postseason after a 11-10 loss to North Penn and will be out for revenge Friday.
Pennridge (6-3, 2-3 SOL Continental) not only needs to beat Hatboro-Horsham Friday, but also needs a little help from their friends. Central League sides Penncrest and Upper Darby are both ahead of the Rams in the district power rankings and play each other at Penncrest. Upper Darby and Penncrest are tied for 16th, while the Rams are next in 18th.
Other out-of-town scores coach Jeff Hollenbach's team will be interested in are Council Rock North against Council Rock South and Unionville hosting Oxford.
Follow Andrew Marcus on Twitter @amarcus515.