Keeley-Wolfrum Trophy Remains At Berks Catholic As Saints Claim Shutout Victory Over Wyomissing In Backyard Brawl
The hype surrounding this one was undeniable. All season long, much like it does every season, Berks Catholic and Wyomissing appeared to be on a collision course. And a collision course it promised to be. Undefeated Wyomissing going head to head against unbeaten Berks Catholic. Finally, after an entire year of waiting eagerly with anticipation, these two Berks County titans separated by a little more than a mile were set to do battle in their annual rivalry game, fittingly known as “The Backyard Brawl.”
Although both squads came into Friday night with unblemished 9-0 records, the storyline behind those very records took on a new dynamic last week. Berks Catholic was originally slated to play Kutztown in Week 9, however due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Kutztown Cougar program regarding the lack of numbers and healthy bodies this deep into the season, Kutztown was forced to forfeit their game against Berks Catholic which gave the Saints an impromptu bye week heading into their biggest game of the season. “We didn’t find out until late Monday that we weren’t playing,” Berks Catholic head coach Rick Keeley said regarding last week. “On Thursday we did our normal pregame where we try to put scenarios in and then gave them the weekend off.”
As it turned out, rest and prep might have been exactly what the doctor ordered for Berks Catholic heading into a matchup with scorching-hot Wyomissing. The Spartans had already enjoyed their bye week earlier in the season after a hard-fought 10-0 victory on the road at Mifflin County back in late September. Since their bye week, the Spartans had taken care of business emphatically, outscoring their opposition by a combined score of 177-20 heading into Friday night.
And so, the stage was set. Backyard Brawl 2017 had finally arrived. And with it, the only game of the night across the entire state of Pennsylvania featuring two undefeated teams. After all was said and done however, it would prove to be Berks Catholic knocking Wyo from the ranks of the unbeaten as the Saints rode into the playoffs on a high note after taking care of Wyomissing28-0 at the Forino Sports Complex.
Although Wyomissing opened up the game by forcing BC into a 3 & out on the Saints’ first possession, Berks Catholic got the ball back shortly thereafter and didn’t look back. The Saints found the end zone later in the first quarter on a 4 yard Cooper Lutz jaunt, the first of four TD’s on the night for the future member of the Syracuse Orange. “Cooper had an outstanding game. He was the difference tonight,” Coach Keeley said when describing his talented senior running back. “He just has a motor that doesn’t stop. When it’s his turn to run the ball he just has outstanding vision.”
It didn’t take Lutz very long to make an impact in the second quarter as well. All of 56 seconds in fact. Deep within the shadows of their own goalposts, Berks Catholic turned to Lutz to get them out of danger and yet again, Lutz was able to deliver the goods across the goal line as his 96 yard rip-roaring touchdown run gave Berks Catholic the 14-0 advantage with 11:04 to go in the half.
Although Wyomissing was able to keep Berks Catholic in check for the rest of the half, the Spartans were not able to make up any ground on their own for the duration of the opening half. Most of which can be attributed to the work of Luis Garcia. The junior free safety was a thorn in the Spartans side in the second quarter with an interception and a fumble recovery. “He had a couple nice plays for us defensively tonight,” Coach Keeley said when describing his ball-hawking safety. “Our defense has been playing great and our secondary was really, really good tonight.”
Needing to get some sort of an answer on the board coming out of the half down by two scores, an early test was passed by the Wyomissing offense when Alyas Branford-Williams moved the chains with a nice run on a 3rd & 4 attempt deep in Wyo territory to keep the drive alive and simultaneously avoid an early punt back to Berks Catholic in the early stages of the second half.
That possible punt would come to fruition shortly thereafter however as a sack later in the drive by Kyle Roberts of Berks Catholic created a 3rd & 15 attempt that wound up short of the line to gain which meant it was punting time again for Wyomissing.
With the ball back in the hands of the BC offense, that surely meant that Cooper Lutz would get his hands on it at some point. When he did, he had yet another highlight in store for the capacity crowd. Touchdown number three on the chilly autumn evening for Lutz went for 50 yards, leaving would-be tacklers in his wake, as Berks Catholic opened their lead up to 21-0 which would be the score once the third quarter expired.
Once the final quarter got underway, the stellar play of the BC defensive backfield was on full display once again. This time it was Matt Hagelbarger getting in on the act as the senior corner back was able to come up with the takeaway on a Wyo 3rd & 7 with BC now suddenly threatening to score once again as the Saints set up shop at the Wyo 33 yard line.
The game giveth and the game taketh away. Faced with a third down of their own, Berks Catholic went to the sky only to find De’Shaun Wilson of Wyomissing waiting on the other end as the sensational Spartan senior came away with the interception to stop the Berks Catholic advance.
Now back on offense and needing to score quickly, Wilson lined up at quarterback and fired it downfield to Dominic Wise as the senior to senior Spartan connection was good enough for 22 yards with the ball now resting at Wyo’s own 39 yard line.
Although the completion to Wise seemed like the spark Wyomissing would need to crack onto the scoreboard, the flame flickered out later in the drive as a near interception by Luis Garcia on 4th down gave the ball back to the Saints’ offense with the commanding lead.
Berks Catholic would still have time for one last score on this night as a Cooper Lutz 20 yard run in the waning moments of the fourth quarter put the exclamation point on Berks Catholic’s resounding 28-0 triumph over Wyomissing. A victory which keeps the Keeley-Wolfrum trophy in the halls of Berks Catholic for at least another year.
NEXT UP: Despite Friday night’s defeat at the hands of Berks Catholic, Wyomissing will undoubtedly be a qualifier for the District 3 playoffs which get underway next week. Hope remains high that Wyo will be able find their way back in Hershey Park Stadium where they hope to make good on their quest for District gold this year and a possible rematch with Middletown as the Blue Raiders were able to top Wyomissing for District gold on their way to the state final last season.
Berks Catholic now moves onto playoff football bringing a shiny 10-0 record with them. Although the Saints are tabbed as the #2 team in the latest EasternPAFootball.com state rankings in the 4A classification, the District 3 road in 4A is still filled with plenty of possible speed bumps along the way. Among them, Northern Lebanon, East Pennsboro, Lampeter-Strasburg, and of course Bishop McDevitt.
Official playoff brackets will be posted by the District 3 office later this weekend.
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