Malvern Prep keeps rolling, getting by tough Roman Catholic 10-0
MALVERN, PA — Malvern Prep coach Dave Gueriera was aware of all the dangers. His team beat state powerhouse Imhotep Charter 17-13 last week and the Friars had another major obstacle coming up in undefeated Roman Catholic and its spectacular junior wide receiver Tyseer Denmark.
It will not fall under the pretty department, in fact, Gueriera may even be tempted to burn the game film, but the Friars pulled through a 10-0 victory on Friday night over Roman Catholic.
Malvern (4-0) remains undefeated, while Roman, despite numerous chances to score, lost for the first time this season, dropping to 4-1.
“It was definitely an ugly win for us, something I was nervous about this week,” Gueriera said. “We were coming off a huge win against Imhotep and getting everyone’s mentality to be hungry was a priority. Our defensive coordinator Joe Carr did a great job.
“I’m super impressed with our mentality. I feared this would be a letdown week. But this game proved we’re mentally strong and they bought in. Denmark is an incredible talent. He’s unbelievable and the fact that we kept him out of the end zone is unbelievable.”
Denmark still caught eight passes for 108 yards and the Roman defense still held Malvern to seven first downs for the game—two coming on penalties, and 116 yards of total offense.
But the Friars prevailed on the shoulders of middle linebacker Bobby Mears, Colin McHugh, Hayden Pegg, and Phil Tabasso to smother the Cahillites.
“We had to play our game and play physical, fast football,” said Mears, who has received an offer from Georgetown. “Coach Carr told us throughout the week what they would do when they run the ball when they pass the ball. (Denmark) is pretty fast. Coach Carr told us how to bottle him up.”
Roman coach Rick Prete has done a nice job in four years at Roman. The Cahillites, based on how explosive they looked, could be strong enough to give La Salle and even St. Joe’s Prep a challenge.
Roman’s problem on Friday surfaced in nine penalties for 77 yards, offsetting 246 yards of total offense and 11 first downs. The Cahillites also squandered two red zone opportunities, one at the end of the first half, and the other with just over four minutes to play, coming away with nothing after a 7-minute series.
“The one that stands out came in the first half near the goal line,” Prete said. “We found out we can play with the better teams anywhere in Pennsylvania. I think we learned more about ourselves tonight than we have in the prior four weeks. There was some growth. We got the adversity to help us grow.”
Malvern scored all of the points in the game during the first half. The 10-0 lead came courtesy of a 31-yard field goal from Jack Ploszay with 10:36 left in the half and Yaahdir Nash’s three-yard run with 6:01 remaining, which was set up by an Andrew Pellicciotta interception at the Roman 43.
Otherwise, the first half for both teams was filled with errors. Malvern Prep’s Chris Smith took the opening kickoff 66 yards to the Roman 13 to start the game. Two plays later, the Friars coughed the ball up at the 17.
The Cahillites started well, too, with freshman quarterback Semaj Beals hitting explosive Denmark for a 28-yard reception. Four plays later, the Cahillites fumbled away the ball.
Malvern’s one sustained drive in the first half resulted in Ploszay’s field goal on the Friars’ third drive. The key plays that sparked the series were a Skyler Smith 23-yard completion to Ryan Falkenstein and Nash run of 15 and 6 yards.
Roman had its chances in the first two quarters. The Cahillites took their second possession to the Malvern 22, where the drive stalled on a Beals’ incompletion on fourth-and-seven.
In the last minute of the half, Roman had another great chance to score, when a snap flew over Ploszay’s head. The punter alertly fell on the ball at the Malvern 15. But the Cahillites could only reach the Friars’ two, helped by two Malvern interference calls. Roman, however, could not capitalize on the opportunity when a Beals’ pass intended for Denmark in the end zone sailed wide.
Through two quarters, Malvern had only three first downs to Roman’s six, and 53 yards of total offense to Roman’s 132—90 of which came through the air, and 84 of those 90 yards came on five receptions by Denmark. It didn’t help Roman that it was nailed with five penalties for 32 yards.
“I think our defense is the best in Pennsylvania—the best,” said Denmark, who was exceptional along with senior linebacker Jordan Montgomery. “We just need to score the football. We need to convert on the offensive side of the ball. If we don’t convert, we’re going to continue coming close to teams nowhere as good as us. We need to mentally get ourselves together. We made too many mental mistakes and the penalties killed us.”
Roman Catholic (4-1) 0 0 0 0- 0
Malvern Prep (4-0) 0 10 0 0-10
MP – Jack Ploszay 31 FG, 10:36
MP – Yaahdir Nash 3 run (Ploszay kick), 6:01
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
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