As a head football coach, there is nothing more you could ask for then to have your team in a position of winning a championship by beating the team that is on your schedule in your final league game.
When Malvern Prep head coach Kevin Pellegrini and his Friars looked across the turf of Quigley Field on Saturday, they saw Springside-Chesnut Hill Academy, the only team that could prevent the Friars from winning their unprecedented 30th Inter-Ac title.
From the opening kick off, the Friars were in full-attack mode, completely shutting down vaunted tailback Cedric Madden, rolling to a 23-0 white washing of the newly merged Springside-Chesnut Hill Academy.
“We came into this season with one goal in mind, win the Inter-Ac Championship,” said Malvern Prep senior Connor Mahoney. “No matter what we had done previous, if we lost today it would have all meant nothing. Billy (Ford) did great job and we told him all week we had confidence in him, it is great to not only win the league, but shutting them out is the icing on top.”
Friars junior signal caller Billy Ford, who had to step in for senior Tom Rumer, who injured his knee in fourth quarter of last week’s game, engineered a brilliant first quarter scoring drive which covered 68 yards, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown run by Shawn Wilson.
“I felt pretty confident coming in,” said Ford. “My coaches and all of the seniors were very supportive in getting ready for this game. I knew what it meant to them and our underclassmen to be Inter-Ac champions, there were a few nerves at first but once we got on the field, the adrenaline took over.”
The Friars (9-1 overall, 5-0 league) added their second score in less than 12 seconds as Paul Finley intercepted the first pass attempt of the day by Blue Devils quarterback Michael Hayes, setting the offense up on the Springside-Chesnut Hill 25-yard line.
On the first play after the pickoff, Ford found Bill Ammerman wide open in the slot for a 25-yard scoring strike, pushing the lead to 14-0 and setting the tone for the rest of the day as the Malvern Prep defense was dominating for the fifth straight week.
“Our defense has been fantastic all season,” said Pelligrini. “Our defensives coaches and the kids work so hard and even more importantly they execute the plan on game day. This is a special group of players and it has been a privilege to coach them. We have one more big game but now that we won today, that game is about tradition and Thanksgiving.”
The one-two punch of Shawn Williams, who became one of an elite group of 1,000-yard rushers in 2010 with 1052 yards, and junior Eric Purnell, were too much for the Blue Devils, who dropped to 4-1.
In truth, the Friars shot down SCHA in ever facet of the game defensively and it was not until the Blue Devils mounted a drive that consumed six minutes, encompassing 50 yards on nine plays in the third quarter that they posed the first threat to the shutout.
The drive ended with Mahoney and company making a stop at the Malvern Prep 21–yard line on fourth-and-two, preserving the goose egg and starting the final scoring drive of the day for the Friars, which ended with Dennis Gabet booting a 32-yard filed goal, extending the lead to 23-0 with less than five minutes to play.
With so many Malvern Prep alumni on hand to witness the seniors’ last game at the Pellegrini Sports Complex, it was fitting that coach Pelligrini got his first Gatorade dowsing as time expired and the celebration began.
“This was our goal from day one, to win the Inter-Ac,” said Pellegrini. “That’s my first one of those. It is part of the Malvern legacy now, and forever the year 2011 Inter-Ac champions will be on that banner. This is something that these guys will remember and talk about when they come back to campus as alumni or see each other in every day life.”
Springside-Chesnut Hill Academy 0 0 0 0 -0
Malvern Prep 14 0 6 3 -23
MP- Wilson 8 yd run (Gabert kick)
MP- Ammerman 25 yd pass from Ford (Gabet kick)
MP- Ford 1 yd run (kick blocked)
MP- Gabert 32 yd FG
Malvern Preps run to the 30th Inter-Ac title in school history
Germantown Academy win 48-0
William Penn Charter win 42-6
Episcopal Academy win 14-0
Haverford School win 17-14
Springside-Chesnut Hill Academy win 23-0