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Wyomissing uses stingy defense, and just enough offense, to stymie Berks Catholic in Saturday showdown

Written by: on Sunday, November 4th, 2012. Follow Josh Funk on Twitter.


WYOMISSING, Pa. – Even though Berks Catholic and Wyomissing have only faced each other two times, the Week 10 meeting already has a nickname – “The Backyard Brawl.”

Meeting No. 2 might go down in history as “The Backyard Scrap.”

Wyomissing (10-0, 6-0 Berks Football League Section 2) used another stingy defensive effort and limited Berks Catholic’s (9-1, 5-1) run-centric Wing-T offense to 71 yards on 41 total carries to earn a 14-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Wyomissing Area High School’s campus in Reading’s western suburbs.

The Spartans capped a second consecutive unblemished regular season and also claimed the Wolfrum-Keeley Trophy, the prize to the victors of the “Backyard Brawl” named for the head coaches of both schools who are fixtures in the Berks prep football community – Bob Wolfrum (Wyomissing) and Rick Keeley (Berks Catholic).

“Well, we won,” Wolfrum deadpanned postgame.

That would be the short of it. Heck, the game was also pretty short – it was completed in just under two hours time. But the thought of getting a jump start on watching some college football wasn’t on the forefront of the mind of the Spartans’ veteran coach.

“Our defense played well,” Wolfrum said. “But they kicked the crap out of our offense.”

Wyomissing had averaged 42.2 points and more than 305 yards rushing per game entering Saturday’s showdown with BC, but Wyomissing never really ran away from its local rival, save for a couple of big plays.

The Saints held Wyomissing in check – to 167 yards rushing on 36 carries – and ran decidedly more plays than the hosts. BC ran 57 plays to Wyomissing’s 39.

“Our defense played with a lot of heart today,” Keeley said. “They’re a good football team. We wish them luck and they wish us luck.”

And Wyomissing also had a couple of opportunities slip through its grasp – steady placekicker Jonah Bowman pushed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide left to cap the Spartans’ opening possession. That field goal was set up by an Alex Anzalone 53-yard run.

The Spartans also committed a pair of second half turnovers, as many as the team had committed through its first nine games, throwing an interception and losing a fumble.

“They were running 11 up (front) and daring us to throw,” Wolfrum said. “We did throw early in the second half, and it wound up being a turnover. We knew our defense was playing well, so we decided that as long as we held them, we could do just enough (offensively) to get by.”

After picking up five first downs within the first 13:23 of game clock, Wyomissing had just two first downs for the remainder of the game.

Yet it was enough, thanks to Anzalone. He rushed for a game-high 117 yards on 11 carries and scored the game’s opening touchdown on a 23-yard run in the second quarter. Two plays prior to the touchdown, teammate Justin Causa broke a 23-yard run to open the drive.

“We knew what was coming with the counter (which Anzalone scored on),” Keeley said. “We knew they’d run it and we thought we had a good look at it. But that’s a credit to how good of a team they are when we knew what was coming and they made it work anyway.”

Then, later in the period, Anzalone did something he hadn’t done all season – record a pass reception. Lined up in the slot, the Notre Dame recruit ran a wheel route and hauled in a floating spiral from Joe Cacchione for a 56-yard touchdown.

Berks Catholic players said one of the Spartan players, split end Gerald Burns, set a pick on the play, physically blocking the defender from covering Anzalone. Keeley said he didn’t see it because he was on the far end of the field, but would watch film.

“We’ve been running that play the whole season,” Anzalone said. “The quarterback gave me a nice throw and an opportunity to make a play.”

Anzalone was also forceful defensively, recording two sacks and picking off a pass.

“We were in position to make those defensive plays because of our coaches,” Anzalone said.

But the Spartans’ defense bent at times – the Saints managed 13 first downs for the game and twice advanced deep into Wyomissing territory – including earning a 1st-and-goal from the 10 yard line late in the first half. Wyomissing, though, didn’t break, forcing a punt on one and a turnover on downs for the other. The hosts also limited Saints’ feature back Jack Huntsman to 51 yards on 13 carries.

“We struggled a bit on defense last week (against Schuylkill Valley),” Wolfrum said. “But today it was just the opposite. Our defense has really carried us over the past two seasons.”

NOTES: Berks Catholic is a second-year program which came about as the result of the jointure of Reading Holy Name and Reading Central Catholic high schools. “Last year, we were Cardinals and Blue Jays playing on the same field,” Keeley said. “This year, we are all Saints on the field. We’ve made remarkable progress.”…….Berks Catholic has yet to score a point against Wyomissing in the series, being outscored 49-0 overall, including 35-0 in 2011……Twenty of Wyomissing’s 22 starters between offense and defense are seniors……..Both teams battled to a scoreless first quarter, and the Spartans and Saints have surrenderred a combined 17 first quarter points all season…….Anzalone has scored 19 total touchdowns, which is tops on Wyomissing’s team.

Berks Catholic 0 0 0 0 – 0
Wyomissing 0 14 0 0 – 14

2nd Qtr
WYO – Alex Anzalone 23 run (Jonah Bowman kick)
WYO – Anzalone 56 pass from Joe Cacchione (Bowman kick)

Rushes-yds 41-71 36-167
Passing 8-16-1 1-3-1
Pass yds 159 56
Total offense 230 223
1st downs 13 7
Penalties 1-17 2-10
Turnovers 1 2

Individual statistics:

RUSHING: BC: Jack Huntsman 13-51; Chris Warren 9-40; Cooper Kutz 4-12; Carsen Allen 3-0; Patrick Causa 6-minus-5; Matt Kase 6-minus-27. WYO: Alex Anzalone 11-117 TD; Justin Causa 8-41; Brandon Gonzalez 8-11; Mason Smith 5-6; Joe Cacchione 4-minus-8.

PASSING: BC: Kase 5-9-0-102; Causa 3-7-1-52. WYO: Cacchione 1-3-1-56 TD.

RECEIVING: BC: Kutz 3-56; Warren 3-49; Allen 1-34; Kyle Eliff 1-7. WYO: Anzalone 1-56 TD.

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One Response to “Wyomissing uses stingy defense, and just enough offense, to stymie Berks Catholic in Saturday showdown”

  1. Mike says:

    I’m sure you’re aware that there’s a much longer history to the “Backyard Brawl” (between the former Holy Name and Wyo, prior to the HN/CC merger) but many of your readers will not get that from the end of the article. To many of these kids, this is the biggest game of the year – I know, I was one of them many years ago.