CEC Ends Lions’ Season
To Run in the November 16th Bucks County Herald
It was a fatal five minutes on a frozen Friday field.
Midway through the second quarter of a scoreless game, the #2 New Hope-Solebury Lions (9-2) advanced to the Conwell Egan-37. Although the #3 Eagles had the poorer seed in Friday night’s first round District 1/12 3A playoff game, Conwell Egan (5-6) handily gave the Lions their only loss in Week One.
But a Topher Taylor punt block and a Patrick Cooney interception snuffed out two Eagle drives. Momentum had swung the Lions’ way.
Then the fatal five. CEC recovered a Lion fumble and Terome Mitchell scored from the Lion-10 three plays later. CEC forced a three-and-out and on their first offensive series play, quarterback Alex Goldsby raced 48 yards to pay dirt on an option keeper. CEC recovered a muffed kickoff, and Patrick Garwo rushed 17 yards for a score.
A close game in a bitterly cold night- the halftime temperature was 26 degrees- quickly became a 21-0 CEC intermission lead.
“We were playing inspired football. We played the type of football that I know our team can play,” noted New Hope-Solebury head coach Jim DiTulio. “Unfortunately, those last four and half minutes were a blur because they scored 21 points. 14 of them were off turnovers. You can’t do that.
“They knew our plays so we were trying to run different stuff against them,” said Morgan Shadle, who rushed for ten touchdowns this year. “In the first quarter, we had them and we played well but then we made mistakes and the last six minutes killed us. I think we otherwise played a great game but those mistakes killed us.”
It was 28-0 after an opening NHS three-and-out was followed by Goldsby’s 13-yard score. The Lions then went “heavy”, using a full house backfield.
“Our kids went into halftime and re-grouped. We went into our heavy package and had success running the ball,” DiTulio said. “That was important to us: to continue to go out and fight. I give our kids credit. They never quit and I am extremely proud of them for what they put in.”
“It’s getting more bodies at the point of attack,” explained guard-turned-fullback John Mangan. “I’m not a fullback but I’m the size of a fullback so I get to light somebody up and they run off me! It was a great job by Jesse (Capriotti) and everyone else. I love this team and they played their hearts out.”
“They were stacking the box so it was good going heavy,” Shadle added. “All of our guys were being physical and getting on a block. With Jesse’s speed and our good blockers, he could get by them every time.”
Capriotti rushed 16 yards for a touchdown to trim the lead to 28-6. CEC’s DaJuan Harris responded immediately with a 52-yard score, but the Lions counterattacked, marching 52 yards in 11 plays. Mangan burrowed into the end zone from the two and Shadle added the conversion on a Statue of Liberty play.
Mitchell’s 50-yard punt return with 8:30 left ended the scoring. CEC advances to play the winner of Saturday’s Lansdale Catholic-School of the Future game.
Garwo, the Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division MVP and FBS recruit, ran for 92 yards on 11 carries. Goalsby added 86 yards on eight totes. “The plan was to contain them and hit them hard early,” Mangan explained. “I thought we did early. (Garwo’s) talent shines eventually and shout out to them: they played a great game.”
The weather did not let New Hope-Solebury showcase it’s sophisticated passing game, thought to be an advantage over CEC, who plays in the run heavy Catholic League.
“We put a lot of tweaks in. We have an audible system in place to try and outman them. We put in a lot of gadget plays which unfortunately, we weren’t able to use because of the tempo of the game. We tightened a lot of things up defensively. I thought we played pretty well in the first half. We got beat deep on a couple of plays where Garwo just burned us. And we struggle with the triple option,” DiTulio commented.
Capriotti’s 190 yards on 30 carries led all players. He ends a brilliant New Hope-Solebury season as their all-time leading rusher, having racked up over 2,400 yards in 2017.
“His heart,” Mangan credited. “His last couple of runs, you think he is down in the backfield and he is breaking off in the sideline gaining another five yards. It’s unbelievable.”
The game wraps up the second straight season where New Hope-Solebury ran the table in the Bicentennial League and their third straight with at least nine wins. NHS has not lost to a public school since 2014. Every win in 2017 was by 21 or more points.
“It’s a bunch of factors,” Mangan felt. “We’re a heck of a team on offense and our defense played very well. Our leadership with Jesse and (quarterback) Nick Garritano was great. I think we’ll have time to reflect on what we did wrong, and come back next year.”
“Our expectations are higher now,” Shadle feels. “Now, we’re known for winning the BAL but I feel we need to win Districts. Jesse came in last year behind Brendan (Shadle) and Jack (McKenna) so he didn’t get a chance. I think that inspired him. I think we knew coming in that we were going to have a good season with Jesse’s speed, losing only one starter on the line and having a four year starter in Nick.”
“What you see right here: a lot of guys are shedding tears because of everything they put into this program since late January. You see the hugging and everyone is crying because they know we put our heart and soul into it and that’s why we’ve been successful,” DiTulio pointed out. “There is nothing to hang their head over. And I’m proud that all of these kids are from New Hope.”
Week 12 Summary
Friday was a rematch and virtual identical result of Week 3 where Pennridge (10-2) pasted Perkiomen Valley (10-2) 29-0. The #7 Rams pitched another shutout, a 25-0 beat down of the #2 Vikings in the second round of 6A District One playoffs. It is Pennridge’s second straight playoff shutout. Ryan Garner ran for 105 yards on 18 carries. Pennridge travels to #3 Garnet Valley (11-1), who shocked #6 North Penn 36-35 after trailing by 21. South Hunterdon (2-8) ended their season with a 52-21 Thursday loss to Palmyra (5-4) in an NJSIAA Regional Crossover game. The Eagles closed the year winning two of their final five games after a sluggish start to 2017.
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