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PIAA “AAA” State Title Game – Archbishop Wood Preview

Written by: on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Archbishop Wood, in the terms of the “AAA” landscape, is one of the new kids on the block.  But in terms of the Philadelphia Catholic League, the Vikings’ program has established itself as a player year in and year out.

Now, the black and gold find themselves playing a 16th game (Wood previously had played 12 game seasons, maximum), and it’s not just any game.  It’s for all the marbles in Class “AAA.”

Wood (12-2) takes on WPIAL powerhouse Thomas Jefferson (14-1) Friday night at Hersheypark Stadium.  Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

The Vikings might be new to the concept of PIAA playoff games and state titles, but one thing that isn’t new to this team is winning.  Wood has, since the start of 2003, posted an overall record of 59-14 (.808), and won three straight Catholic League titles from 2003-’05.

Archbishop Wood High School was formed in 1966, some 42 years ago.  Including this season, Wood has won six PCL championships and has had 14 seasons of eight wins or more.

Ten win seasons, though, aren’t quite as common.  The 12 victories for Wood are a school record, and Wood has had, including this year, only four seasons of double digit wins.

To put it in perspective, Wood’s opponent, Thomas Jefferson, has won at least 10 games in a season every year since 2001, a string of eight straight seasons, twice as many 10-win seasons as Wood has had in over four decades.

Wood’s playoff run, however, saw the Vikings vanquish some new kids on the block.  Wood first defeated Bayard Rustin in the state quarterfinals, and Rustin is a school that is only in its third year of existence.  Wood then downed Selinsgrove in the semifinals, and Selinsgrove was a team that was making its first semifinals appearance after being eliminated in the quarterfinals six of the last eight years.

How Wood got to this point was on the shoulders of an offense that has averaged 31.7 points per game and 318 yards per game. 

The main strength of the Vikings’ offensive arsenal is its ground game, which averages 225 yards per game.  Sean Cunningham, Sean McCartney, and Nick Devine are the main contributors on the ground.  Cunningham leads the team with 1,749 yards and 26 touchdowns; McCartney adds 609 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Devine chips in with 479 yards and eight scores.

Scott Adkins, the team’s best defensive back with eight interceptions, receives a carry every now and again, and averages over eight yards per rushing attempt to go along with four touchdowns.

McCartney is also the Vikings’ quarterback, and he’s thrown for 1,282 yards and eight touchdowns.  McCartney has been a model of efficiency the past four weeks, completing nearly 78 percent of his passes (31-of-40) for 507 yards and three touchdowns.

McCartney has three quality receiving targets to throw to.  Mike Maxwell and Vince Furlong each have surpassed the 400-yard receiving plateau.  Maxwell’s 472 receiving yards lead the team; Furlong’s 423 yards are second.  Anthony Narisi adds 189 yards and three touchdowns, rounding out the trio.

Defensively, Wood has allowed a scant 8.5 points per game, and has held 11 of its 14 opponents to seven points or less.

Will the Vikings down powerful Thomas Jefferson and claim the golden football in its first year as a member of the PIAA?

Find out Friday.

Archbishop Wood individual and program statistics are from Ted Silary’s website, tedsilary.com.

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