A Slice of Public School versus Philadelphia Catholic League History
Early in February some interest was raised about Catholic schools in regard to separate championships in the past and also about wrestling and basketball, and Catholic school domination. I could be of little help then, but Jive and others that post on these threads came through beautifully. It got me thinking of what I might be able to pull from my records regarding the PCL schools and what the experience was among them and the schools that I have followed for many years. Although this study must be considered just a segment not a complete picture, I think it sheds some light on the question of the present prominence of the Philadelphia Catholic League schools versus their past performance. As Jive said on Feb 6th, it shows no dominance long term. I do not have the resources for a complete, comprehensive history. I am presenting only what I have personally recorded over 53 seasons.
As St. Joes Prep has the hot hand right now, I take the Hawks first. From 1974 through 1980 the Hawks played two local teams twelve times. The two locals were not powerful programs, Neshaminy Maple Point in 8 seasons of existence had a .338 winning percentage and Delhaas in 32 years had a .290 winning average. The Hawks went 3-3-1 against Delhaas, and 0-5 versus NM Pt for a total record of 3-8-1. The Hawks won the 1977 PCL Championship and lost to NM Pt (4-6) 21-20 that year.
Now we compare. After a 19-year absence, Prep returned in 1999-2013 for 14 games. This time against North Penn, C B West, and Neshaminy, there was a quite different level of competition. Winning percentages respectively for these three teams were .547, .703, and .657 (all 62-year averages). Against this competition, Prep posted an 8-6 record going 1-1 with CBW, 3-0 with Neshaminy, and 4-5 with North Penn. Clearly much better results against much stronger competition since 1999. And since the PCL entered PIAA play in 2008, the Hawks were 4-3. Overall the Hawks are 11-14-1 versus the various teams I have recorded.
Other PCL versus local schools results are similar. LaSalle went 0-3-2 versus Neshaminy 1961 through 1966. Then after a 24-year hiatus, starting in 1990-2013; LaSalle went 5-2 against C B East (0-1) and North Penn (5-1). Equal competition both segments, but far better Explorer results in the later years.
Father Judge was 6-13-1 from 1978 through 2007 with local schools. Opposition was mostly Neshaminy and Pennsbury, so no great surprise. Since 2008, the Crusaders are 5-1 versus locals which were both Council Rocks. Maybe not quite the level of Neshaminy and Pennsbury, but both Rocks usually play competitive 4A football.
Archbishop Ryan. From 1967 through 2006, the Raiders were 5-14, again mostly against Neshaminy and Pennsbury. Since 2008, the Raiders are 7-2 against locals.
Once again it was not quite the same competition (Bensalem, CB West in post championship period, and a strong Pennridge), but still 7-2 against decent 4A completion.
Even powerful Archbishop Wood, now a force to be reckoned with in AAA, has a record of 18-30 since 1966 against the local teams I recorded. And here too, the Vikings were 13-28 through 2006, and starting with the 2008 PIAA entrance, have gone 5-2 against local schools.
Only Bishop Egan, Conwell-Egan since 1993, has shown the opposite coarse of results. Egan came to power in 1966 and dethroned Neshaminy for a while in lower Bucks County. They were Catholic League Champions in 1966, 1967, 1969, and 1970. They began playing local schools before they joined the PCL in 1963, but I have included only their results since 1963 as I am matching PCL versus local school results. Up through 1988, the Eagles amassed a 30-15-4 record against local public schools. But then it turned around. For the last 4 years as Bishop Egan, and since 1993 as Conwell-Egan, the Eagles posted a record of 14-33 to finish at 44-48-4 against locals through 2013. In that time shrinking enrollment and almost shuttering the school certainly didn’t help.
Appearing relatively few times against local schools were Bishop Neumann, now Neumann-Goretti, who logged a record of 0-3. Archbishop Carroll was 3-3, and Bishop McDevitt 4-4 in games I recorded. Cardinal Dougherty was 1-7 against locals before closing.
Bonner, now Bonner-Prendie, was 2-5 versus locals 1972 through 2006. Bishop Kenrick, then in 1993 Kennedy-Kenrick, was 5-8 versus local teams. Roman Catholic played 12 local games, going 4-8 from 1978 through 2007. From 1972 through 1990 North Catholic appeared on local schedules 18 times, going 8-10.
Cardinal O’Hara went 5-8-1 from 1975 through 2007 versus opposition I followed. Overall they might have played the toughest slate. They tied Neshaminy 0-0 in 1978 in a hard-hitting game I saw. They played CBW five times, and while going 1-4, their win in 1989 snapped the Bucks 55-game winning streak in another game I saw. The Lions’ last five games were versus North Penn and they went 2-3. Two wins over Harry S Truman and one loss to Council Rock when it was just a single school completes the Lions’ overall 5-8-1 slate.
West Catholic has had the greatest success against locals at 11-6 for 1974 through 2013; a complete revelation to me, as until I recently did this research I didn’t realize that West Catholic had played 17 games against locals. I never saw them until 2002 in a PCL game against Conwell-Egan.
Lansdale Catholic only joined the PCL in 2008 and had some history against local teams back when they were in the Bicentennial League in the 1980’s. But 2008-2013 they were 2-6 with 2 wins over Morrisville and 4 losses to North Penn and 2 losses to Pennridge.
This survey is piecemeal and unscientific to be sure. It does not include each Catholic school schedule in any year except Bucks County locals Wood and Egan.
It does not include what a Catholic school did against other non-Catholic League competition outside of parts of Bucks and Montgomery Counties in the same years. It does not include results against some of the local schools for years other than when I was tracking them, as explained below. It is only a complete record of the Catholic schools mentioned versus teams I have tracked from 1961, the first year in my records that a PCL team appeared on a local schedule.
It is complete for the 53 seasons for Egan and Wood and 14 local schools that have played Catholic schools because I have followed them all since 1961; or their inception if later than 1961. These are Neshaminy, Pennsbury, Council Rock-C R North, Council Rock South, Bensalem, Bristol, Morrisville, William Tennent, Woodrow Wilson, Delhaas, Harry S. Truman, Central Bucks South, New Hope-Solebury, and Neshaminy Maple Point.
Nine other local schools I have tracked for far less time and only the results for the years I tracked them are included. For an example, Abington and most of the others were picked up in 1988. I have two West Catholic-Abington and five McDevitt-Abington games included, but if either of these, or any other Catholic school played the Ghosts 1958 through 1987 I don’t have them. So this is just an excerpt of results, not an overall study of each team with all results each season; just a snapshot. It is sort of an exit poll taken at the polling place at elections. Along with Abington, other schools here are C B East, C B West, North Penn, Pennridge, Hatboro-Horsham, Souderton, Quakertown, and Norristown; some followed only a few seasons.
For the 53 seasons 1961 through 2013 there were 349 games that I tracked. The Philadelphia Catholic League schools were 149-200 overall in these 349 games. From 1961 through 2007 the Catholic schools were 112-176 (.389), and since their 2008 entrance to the PIAA they are 37-24 (.607).
So, it would seem that cueing on local results as a guide; the PCL did ramp up with their entrance into the PIAA in 2008 and are meeting the strongest local competition better than ever before. And notably, the strongest PCL clubs are now playing stiff national competition as well.
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