HERSHEY—As the Chocolatetown, USA-bound caravan of buses departed from on Friday afternoon, even the most die hard of fans would have had a hard time imagining what would transpire in the PIAA class AAA state championship game in Historic Hersheypark Stadium.
On a field that has seen the likes of NFL greats Ricky Watters, LeSean “Shady” McCoy and others, as well as played host to so many legends over the years from U2 to the “Boss” Bruce Springsteen, the Vikings, who ran their winning streak to 14 games, defeated District III powerhouse Bishop McDevitt 52-0 to claim its first State Football championship.
Much like the principles our country is based on, this championship run has truly been one of the Peoples (more specifically Desmon and Brandon peoples), by the people (the amazing offensive line which totally dominated the Crusaders vaunted defense that had only allowed more than 20 points twice all year), and for the people of the Warminster area that have supported their squad, which has won four straight Catholic League titles, three district titles and a trip to the championship game in 2008.
“This is the best day of my life,” said Boston College bound Frank Taylor. “I can’t even describe the feeling right now. This is an awesome group of guys to be a part of; we have all worked so hard to get here. When we got started tonight we just did what we do and played smash mouth football. Brandon and Desmon are the best at running north and south, they make our job on the line easy.”
It took three minutes for Wood to get on the board, largely because the Crusaders got the ball to start the game. On their third play from scrimmage, Desmon Peoples snapped off a 30-yard jaunt into the end zone for the Vikings' first of many big plays.
It was the Rutgers bound Peoples (180 yards total offense, two rushing TD’s) that ended one of the few McDevitt threats on the evening as he ended a seven play, 75 yard drive by leaping in the end zone, picking off junior signal caller Alec Werner, who was 14-of-30 passing in the first half alone, to give the ball back to the Vikings' offensive machine.
As if limiting Peoples’ impact on the game when he lined up in the backfield wasn’t difficult enough, Peoples scored his third touchdown of the game on a one-yard burst, extending the lead to 21-0, six plays after picking off a Werner pass at midfield.
“Wow, our line is awesome,” said Peoples.
“I would put us up there with the best teams ever,” he responded when asked where this Wood team would rank in state history. “We have earned that, there is no one that has done what this team has. It was pretty unbelievable to see their entire stands filled. It is the biggest stage and we used that as motivation, this is awesome. ”
It is easy to talk about the numbers put up by the Vikings offense, after all the last time a Wood game finished without the clock running was back in September in a 28-0 win over West Catholic, but it is the offensive line that has built the foundation from which the well-documented exploits of the trio Brandon and Desmon Peoples and senior Ryan McMullin have been possible.
Vikings seniors Colin Thompson (Florida State), Frank Taylor (Boston College), Brandon Arcidiacono (Rutgers), along with juniors George Griffin, Fran Walsh and Nick Arcidiacono have established themselves as one of the best O line to ever take the field in Pennsylvania high school football history and set the bar at a level that will most likely never be eclipsed.
“We executed our game plan,” said a jubilant Brandon Arcidiacono. “They (McDevitt) have not played anyone all year who has run right at them. We wanted to attack up the middle and they did not adjust to it very well. Having backs behind you that can turn a crease into a gaping hole makes our job on the line so easy. This is amazing, state champs! ”
Following a 41 yard field goal by Nick Visco and a 74 yard interception return by Andrew Guckin, which boosted the Vikings advantage to 38-0, the clock, as it had been in thirteen games this season, was set in go mode for almost the entire second half.
The only times the clocked stopped in the fourth quarter were when Wood added two touchdown runs from Brandon Peoples, one of 67 yards and the second covering 6 yards to close out the scoring, in the first championship game shut out since 1998 and the second highest point total in title game history, second only to the 56-20 thrashing that Thomas Jefferson handed Manheim Central in 2004.
“Our big time player made big plays tonight,” said head coach Steve Devlin. “This is the greatest team I have ever been associated with. I cannot say enough of how proud I am of them and how hard they have worked to get here. If you would have told me the final score when we got off the buses I would have said 'no way, that’s impossible.' But then again that's what this team has done for the last three years.”
Bishop McDevitt 0 0 0 0 -0
Archbishop Wood 14 17 14 7 -52
AW Peoples, D 30 yd run (Visco kick)
AW Peoples, D 54 yd run (Visco kick)
AW Peoples, D 1 yd run (Visco kick)
AW Smith 19 yd pass from Monoghan (Visco kick)
AW Visco 41 yd FG
AW Guckin 71 yd interception return (Visco kick)
AW People, B 67 yd run (Visco kick)
AW Peoples, B 6 yd run (Visco kick)