Cloud Nine: Unbeaten NH-S Plays for BAL Title on Saturday
By Don Leypoldt
To run in the November 5th Bucks County Herald
The defense starred in the unbeaten Lions’ (9-0) 48-14 win, their third straight mercy rule victory. George School (5-3) gained just 32 yards in the first half and did not pick up a first down until late in the third quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Nick Garritano’s eight yard touchdown run staked the Lions to an early 7-0 lead. And when George School got the ball back…
First down: junior lineman Marcus Hems burst through the line and hit Cougar quarterback Shadimere Coles for no gain.
Second down: linebacker Russell Abernethy’s pressure forced Coles from the pocket and caused an incompletion.
Third down: lineman Topher Taylor swarmed the option pitchman for a loss, forcing a three-and-out. That series typified the Lions’ effectiveness all game and all year.
“You should be interviewing (defensive coordinator) Joe Goodman,” head coach Jim DiTulio deflected. “He gets all of the credit. He has really taken this defense to another level and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
The Lions’ pride in 2015 has been that defense. They have surrendered just 56 points this Fall. Four times, New Hope-Solebury has held their opponent to their season low point total.
“We have a lot of guys with a lot of experience,” echoed senior linebacker Tommy Capriotti. “Some people have played since they were freshmen. We know the system, everyone does their job and we can stop the other team.”
A blocked punt followed Taylor’s stop, giving NH-S the ball at the Cougar-24. Junior running back Brendan Shadle’s counter took it to the end zone on a one-play scoring drive, making NH-S’ lead 14-0.
“On both of my runs I had really nice lead blocking from the guards and tackles,” credited Shadle. “Once you get out there, they go to work on the defensive backs and do so much to open up the second level that I have a lot of room to run.”
Lion points started to come in bushels. NH-S next marched 75 yards in seven plays- thanks to three straight Garritano completions- to set up an 11 yard Shadle (6 carries/95 yards) touchdown run. Garritano (8-for-12, 113 yards) rifled a 15 yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Matt Kolen with 7:38 in the half to extend the lead to 27-0.
Abernethy punched it in from the five to make the game 34-0. Then Capriotti provided some defensive fireworks. He swatted a George School option pitch and recovered it, taking it down to the Cougar-six. From there, junior running back Jack McKenna (10 carries/75 yards) ran it in from the four to give the Lions a 41-0 lead at the break.
“I was blitzing off of the edge and I saw the quarterback breaking down like he was going to do a toss,” recalled Capriotti. “I went to where he was going to toss it and ran it down.”
The George School tallied two touchdowns on two convincing drives in the fourth quarter. Coles, running out of the wildcat, ran for 95 yards on 21 tough carries. His five yard touchdown run broke the shutout.
McKenna teams with Shadle to give New Hope-Solebury a potent “Mr. Outside/Mr. Inside” run combination. 6’3” Garritano throws a very good deep ball.
“We have so many people who are threats- Blake Hildebrandt on the outside as a wide receiver,” praised Shadle. Hildebrant snagged three balls for 66 yards.
“We have two backs who can run and a fullback. We have a quarterback with an arm like that. There are only so many things that a defense can do,” Shadle observed.
George School played without several key starters. The independent Cougars started the season with a five game winning streak that included three convincing victories against Bicentennial League teams.
The Lions head to Delco Christian on Saturday night for literally the biggest game in their young history. While NH-S has already punched their District One playoff ticket, the Bicentennial League (BAL) title remains at stake.
Both schools are undefeated in conference play. Both have won all of their BAL games by at least 15 points.
“We weren’t thinking ahead. It hasn’t been that much of a challenge to keep these guys focused,” DiTulio pointed out. “They came out and executed. You always worry about them coming out flat but in the first half, they did what we wanted them to do and we were really pleased.
“We have a lot of film on Delco,” continued DiTulio. “As soon as I go home, I’m going to hit ‘Send’ and send it out to all of the players. We’re ready to go.”
Don Leypoldt’s book Keystones and Wishbones: Faith, Values and Football in the Delaware Valley is now available on Amazon! The book features interviews with over a dozen NFL veterans, all with Delaware Valley ties. Click here to order:
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