Looking at the Explorers
The Explorers have had an interesting past couple of weeks. Coming off a loss to #4 in the nation, Dematha Catholic, the Explorers got back to it two weeks ago narrowly escaping Malvern Prep
21-14. Last week's away game at McDonough High School (Baltimore, MD) was cancelled due to predicted severe weather and flooding in Baltimore, so La Salle will be a getting back into action for the first time in two weeks. Against Malvern Prep, Sr. Chris Ferguson went 7 -13 with 114 yards and 2 touchdowns (1 passing TD and 1 rushing TD) . Those standards will definitely not hold up for Wood this week. Ferguson needs to get the air raid going this week and give it to the Wood defense. Furthermore, Sr. stud wide - out Wintson Eubanks is out for a couple of weeks with a dislocated left elbow (pending return for Judge or Roman). With Eubanks out, Jr. Troy Holland will certainly need to step up along with Sr. Charles Headen. Holland seemed to fill Euabnks's void just fine with a touchdown and a decent number of yards after Winston went down. Also, Sr. Nick Rinella will be another important piece possibly in the slot this week for Ferguson. Furthermore, Jr. back Syaire Madden has been the most consistent piece for this Explorer team. Madden ran for 124 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown in his last outing. No discredit to Ferguson, but Syaire has carried this team for the first few weeks of they year so far. He will definitely need another huge performance his week. To conclude, La Salle should look to pound the ball on the ground but shouldn't be afraid of the pass game that Euabanks is out. They have many great receivers in Rinella, Headen, and Holland and should look to utilize them and keep them involved Saturday.
On the defensive side of the ball, La Salle has been solid for the most part. They shutout Pennsbury a few weeks ago and then held Malvern to only two touchdowns. This week they will need to handle quarterback Anthony Russo (Rutgers commit) and prevent him from getting hot. Pressuring Russo will be key this week, Anthony Piscopo, Garret Zoebel, and Matt McDermott did a gret job of pressuring the quarterback against MP. Sr. Matt McDermott (DL) went down against MP with a leg injury but will indeed return Saturday only on a few days of practice this week. Furthermore in the secondary, Sr. Kohler Setley and Jr. Tom Flavin will also be key this week. They will need to step up and prevent Russo from going long.
Looking at the Vikings
Archbishop Wood is coming into this week red hot. They are 5-0 and have outscored their opponents 247 - 65 so far. They haven't scored any less than 41 points in a game so far. Wow. Last year, they were also red hot coming into La Salle and we all know what happened. Anyway, Wood has some great offensive play makers. Leading the team is Rutgers commit, Sr. Anthony Russo. Last week, Russo went 15-18 with 378 yards (a school yardage record) and a whopping 5 touchdowns. Yes, that was 5 touchdowns. On the season so far, he is 56-79 (70%) with 1,227 yards and 18 touchdowns. In the receiving core, Wood has Jr. Mark Webb and Sr. James Gillespie have been Russo's primary targets thus far. The 6 ' 3'' 180 lb Webb had 139 yards and 6'0 senior Gillespie had 114 yards. Russo has many other targets as well and will definitely utilize them the whole game. On the ground, Wood doesn't really have a strong case. They have Jr. Shawn Thompson and Sr. Sebastian Silva. Silva plays mostly defense but will get some touches in on the ground.
Defensively Wood stacks up well. They shutout Ryan last week, held West Catholic to 6 points, and Prep Charter to 8 points. Sr. Mack Schwartz (DE) is one of the Vikings key pass rushers along with Sr. Jason Barish (DT). The two seniors will face up against one of the biggest offensive lines in the league. Overall, the defensive threat for Wood is potent. They are well prepared and have been dominant to this point in the season.
As the Vikings are coming in Saturday red hot, the Explorers are fresh and ready to roll. With a week off, La Salle will look to make their name bold with a win against a top tier program. Sr. Chris Ferguson will need to be a vocal leader both on and off the field. He has done that very well so far giving credit to every single player on his team for their contributions in every game. He has stood out in his leadership and will need to get it done on the field this week. I predict it to be a close game. Russo will be limited by the Explorer defense and Syaire Madden will have a standout performance for La Salle. Regardless, it will be tight. A very talented, high profile, and hype game.
In recent news, the PIAA has announced that they will expand the state breakdown into six (6) different tiers. Starting at 1A, the PIAA has expanded all the way to 6A. This will come into effect starting in 2016 for football, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, and softball. . The Explorers will most likely be placed in PIAA AAAA AA (6A) come next season.
Can't make it to the game? Be sure to listen to a live audio broadcast courtesy of Bob Long Sports by clicking here. Follow @LaSalle_Sports for live game updates and updates throughout the year and be sure to check back to the site for game previews each week. Also check out the La Salle Homecoming video at the top of the page (credit: Christopher Sanders)
- Christopher Sanders
Follow Chris on twitter: sandman285
Follow Whiz Wit on twitter: @whizwitsports