LaSalle vs. St. Joe’s Prep Preview
At Stake: First place in the AAAA, District 12, Philadelphia Catholic League
Venue/Time: Colonial Stadium, Plymouth-Whitemarsh, Pa., Saturday, October 13, 7:00 PM
Coaches: Drew Gordon for LaSalle in his seventh year and Gabe Infante, St. Joe’s in his third year.
Common Opponents: LaSalle beat North Penn in week 1, 20-7. The Prep defeated North Penn 31-3 in week 3. Both LaSalle and the Prep were the visiting team in those games.
Offense: The Explorers average 33 points/game. Chris Kane has thrown for 16 touchdowns (mostly out of the shotgun) and his main targets are Sean Coleman, sophomore Jimmy Herron and Jared Herrmann out of the backfield. Herrmann is the feature back and his role as a receiver (either out of the backfield or in the slot) has limited his touches at running back. The Explorers on the whole run the ball 2/3 of the time but the run sets up the more efficient passing game. Kane has thrown seven touchdowns of 30 yards or more and has an extremely accurate arm. He also is a very powerfully built quarterback who can run for tough yardage. He played some fullback last year. LaSalle runs the shotgun and spread sets about as good as anyone in Pa. This group has a high percentage in converting third and fourth downs.
The Hawks average 27 points/game primarily using a quick tempo pro and spread offense not quite as balanced as the Explorers. Quarterback Chris Martin is not as tall as Kane but just as physical running a number of successful quarterback draws because of his style of play. Sophomore running backs Olamide Zaccheaus (shifty) and Vince Moffit (ground and pound) complement each other and throw off opposing defenses because of the difference in their styles. Most cases they play a one back set. Jawan McAllister, John Reid and freshman Cameron Chambers are dangerous receivers who can stretch defenses. Chambers size (6’2, 195) enables Martin to use him on fade patterns and McAllister has speed to open up the short game with Moffit out of the backfield. The Prep also has one of the better audible systems thru offensive coordinator Tim Roken.
Defense: The only team to score more than seven points against LaSalle was Monsignor Farrell (NY), but that was after the Explorers built a 37-7 lead in the fourth quarter. They rely on defensive coordinator John Steinmetz ability to rotate a plethora of lineman to compliment a number of playmaking defensive backs like Chris Rocco, Dad Poquie, Coleman and Herron. Jon Nagi takes on many double teams from his DE position.
The Prep has one of the quickest defenses seen in these parts in a long time and give up an average of eight points/game. Their entire back seven play downhill due to the athleticism of their front four consisting of Paul Johnson, freshman Joe DuMond, Jim Mooney and Shane Williams. Starting playmaker strong safety Dan Sherry will return this week after suffering a concussion. The 295 pound Johnson is a leverage machine in the middle and gets double teamed often creating plays for the LB’s. This team tackles in numbers and play great together. They caused six Archbishop Wood turnovers last week.
Special Teams: LaSalle has one of the best kickers in SEPA in University of Pitt commit Ryan Winslow. The majority of his kickoffs are touchbacks giving the opponents the ball on their 20 yard line. He can handle 40 yard attempts and can punt for over 40 yards when needed. Coleman handles the returns and has a punt return for a touchdown.
The Prep has Kyle Battin handling the kicking duties. Although not as big a leg as Winslow, Battin is very accurate with four FG’s. The Prep has successfully used pooch kickoffs with great success causing three turnovers in their last two games vs. Wood and Roman Catholic. John Reid had a game changing 99 yard return kick return in their win against Wood last week.
Line Play: This game most likely will hinge on which line plays better. St. Joe’s strength is their defensive line and LaSalle has more depth in theirs. In the Explorers dismantling of Malvern, three starting offensive lineman were out and they still dominated up front. They normally rotate Dave Losier, Tom Spiteri, Pat Hoffman (Navy), Luke Persichetti, Dave Geppert, Andrew Carlone , Conor Resch and Bill Frusco. Prep counters with sophomore Jon Runyan, Fran Grey, Chris Koilor, Matt McIntyre and Dave Tracz and at times, Johnson on the offensive side of the ball.
Both LaSalle and St. Joe’s lines are very well coached and they show good technique in pass and drive blocking schemes.
- LaSalle’s deep aerial game may explore some holes in the Prep defense
- Infante may unleash Chambers this week after gradually working him in on their passing game
- The Explorers depth may bide them well in the fourth quarter
- The Hawks played with adversity in their game vs. Wood. They were outplayed in the first half of that game and fortunate to be down 3-0 at half. LaSalle has yet to be tested. St. Joe’s to this point has had the more difficult schedule.
Prediction: This could be a close and potentially low scoring game especially with weather conditions forecast for the low 40’s and the play of both defensive lines. This game could be decided by turnovers or special teams. However neither coach will open up the playbook as much because they may be playing in the PCL final come November.
Ted Silary has contributed to this story
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