On Friday night I attended the Strath Haven v. Upper Darby game at George L. King field in Wallingford, PA. The Haven Panthers improved to 7-0 on the year with a hard fought 16-10 win over a very tough Upper Darby squad. The win marked Haven's state record 71rst consecutive regular season victory.
In typical fashion, Dan Connor was brilliant, packaging a 178-yard rushing performance with a monster effort from his inside linebacker slot.
With the field conditions deteriorating with every play in the steady rain, the events on the field greatly resembled last year's postseason win over Upper Merion.
A year ago, Connor maneuvered through the mud at Upper Merion for 182 rushing yards in a District One Class AAA playoff game.
Early in the fourth quarter, Connor rumbled 45 yards to set up a Jared Bradley 15 yard touchdown run to increase the Haven advantage to 16-3.
Although the Royals (5-2, 4-2) suffered their fourth single-digit defeat to Strath Haven since 1997, they didn't go away without a fight.
On the possession following Bradley's score, Dennis Dunn hooked up with Darren Barrett for a 53-yard pass that preceded a 6-yard touchdown run from Steve Juisti. In a blink, Upper Darby was back in it, staring at a 16-10 deficit.
The Royals managed just one yard on their final two possessions and, consequently, couldn't get that winning score.
"It felt like déjà vu," said Upper Darby coach Rich Gentile. "They're a very good team and they have the best player I've seen in a long time. There were times I thought we had holes and then I saw No. 40 (Connor) get there. He's just a great football player."
On Saturday I ventured into Delaware to get my first look at junior QB Gene DelleDonne. Salesianum was taking on Brandywine in an afternoon game at Brandywine High on Foulke Road.
I stayed long enough to watch Salesianum build a comfortable first half shut out lead behind a steady effort from DelleDonne. Gene is a 6'5" 225lbs pro style QB with a very live arm and good mechanics. Gene has good pocket footwork but would not be considered a running QB.
Gene threw some nice passes with very good touch and a tight spin on the ball. He has obvious talent and is being recruited by several schools already.
I had a chance to talk briefly with Gene's father, Ernie DelleDonne, regarding Gene's summer and fall progress.
"Gene was at the Penn State Nike camp in April. One of the camps Gene attended this summer was one of two juniors at the Elite 11 camp in California where he had a chance to learn from former pro Troy Aikman and with current college QB's Matt Schaub and John Navarre. Bob Johnson was also there as he runs the Elite 11 camp."
Gene is working with a personal QB coach right now and plans to just make as much progress as he can this fall and going forward. I asked Ernie if Gene was receiving any early college recruiting interest this fall.
"Gene is getting mail right now from Penn State, Pitt, Virginia, Maryland and others."
It never even crossed my mind to ask if Gene had an early leader, but I got the impression that Gene would be looking hard at schools close to home.
In other Prep Football action from around the state:
Jordan Steffy threw for 6 TD's in leading Conestoga Valley to a 46-0 win over Elizabethtown.
Dan Lawlor had a 10 yard per carry average in leading Cumberland Valley to a 43-0 win over Central Dauphin. With its fifth mercy-rule victory of the season, Cumberland Valley, ranked No. 2 in the state in Class AAAA, is exactly where it wants and expects to be: 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the Commonwealth Division of the Mid-Penn Conference.
Anthony Morelli had a tough evening going 5-11 for 36 yards as Penn Hills dropped a 28-13 tilt to Pittsburgh Central Catholic.
Moon Area, the 4th ranked team in the WPIAL, pitched a 21-0 shutout on West Allegheny. AQ Shipley helped Moon limit WA to 189 yards in total offense.
Jai Wilson had four catches for 100 yards and super junior Justin King had 23 carries for 112 yards and two TD's in Gateway‘s 38-12 win over Kiski Area.
All state LB Dontey Brown's McKeesport team is now 7-1 after whipping up on Ringgold by a 59-13 count. McKeesport will take on WPIAL 2nd ranked (8-0) Upper St. Clair next week.
Andrew Johnson ran for two long touchdowns about a minute and a half apart and North Hills suffocated the Woodland Hills offense last night en route to a 27-0 victory at Turtle Creek Stadium. Johnson raced 72 yards with 1:00 remaining in the first quarter, then 55 yards only 34 seconds into the second to make it 14-0. Johnson finished with 145 yards on 15 carries. The Indians out gained the Wolverines, 478-97.
Ryan Hicks rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, as WPIAL AAA top-ranked Thomas Jefferson (8-0, 5-0) rolled to an easy 48-7 home win over McGuffey.
In major upset action, Pittston Area Stunned Berwick 31-7 and winless Cedar Crest defeated unbeaten and state ranked Lancaster McCaskey 19-10.
Rory Nicol's Beaver squad improved to 7-1 with a 63-7 thumping of Quaker Valley.
In a coal region contest of note, Mt. Carmel halfback Drew Letcavage ran for 209 yards on just 10 carries as Mount Carmel Area beat the visiting Shikellamy Braves, 35-7, inside a rain-soaked Sliver Bowl.
Mid State AAA power Manheim Central improved to 7-0 with a 29-18 homecoming win over Ephrata, but they suffered a big loss on Friday night when WR-DB Shawn Wilt broke his leg.
Also, a pair of Penn State recruits clashed in Ohio over the weekend as Warren Howland took on Youngstown Struthers. Howland claimed its first MAC title Friday night by defeating Struthers 57-28. The Howland Tigers improved to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the league.
Penn State cornerback recruit and Howland tailback Tony Davis is usually the workhorse of the Howland offense. David was his usual self, finishing with 176 yards on 22 carries and three scores. No word on how Penn State TE recruit Jed Hill fared for Struthers.
Pennsy has some very exciting underclass prep standouts this year. In fact, the PIAA has two 1700 yard rushers already this fall. Johnstown's 11th grade 5'10" 160lbs. RB LaRod Stephens has 1746 yards on 125 carries while Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt 10th grade tailback LeSean McCoy has also topped the 1700 yard mark thru 7 games.
Downingtown East sophomore Pat Devlin is a 6'3" 195lbs. QB who is already being recruited by multiple D1 schools. Pat threw for 365 yards in the rain last night against Norristown. Pat's uncle played in the NFL from what I understand and his parents are both Penn State grads. Devlin is being coached by former Virginia QB Danny Ellis.
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