Raider revival

After win­ning just three foot­ball games over the past three sea­sons, Arch­bish­op Ry­an dom­in­ated Pub­lic League champs George Wash­ing­ton on Thanks­giv­ing Day.

Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s Dylan Row­an heads up­field dur­ing a Thanks­giv­ing Day match­up against George Wash­ing­ton on Thursday, Novem­ber 24, 2011. Ry­an won 19-0. Kev­in Cook / for the Times

If the 2011 sea­son was pre-pro­duc­tion for the new Arch­bish­op Ry­an foot­ball pro­gram, then the Raid­ers’ em­phat­ic tri­umph over Pub­lic League cham­pi­on George Wash­ing­ton High on Thanks­giv­ing was the pi­lot epis­ode.

By all ac­counts, Ry­an’s rat­ings went through the roof.

The Raid­ers show­cased de­fense, run­ning, timely passing and, above all, their deep and tal­en­ted roster of un­der­class­men in a 19-0 vic­tory. Ry­an got the win des­pite see­ing seni­or quar­ter­back and cap­tain Mike Anusky fall to in­jury in the first quarter, leav­ing the sig­nal-call­ing to pre­vi­ously un­tested sopho­more Mark Os­taszewski.

The vic­tory lif­ted the Raid­ers to a 5-6 re­cord to con­clude the sea­son. They had won just three games in the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons com­bined.

“We def­in­itely wanted to come in here and show we could play with the best teams and we wer­en’t no fraud team,” said ju­ni­or safety Sam Du­mond, who trans­ferred from Ro­man Cath­ol­ic last sum­mer. “And (show that) Ry­an foot­ball is back.”

“Our young guys have been work­ing hard this year,” ad­ded ju­ni­or half­back Dylan Row­an. “We’re go­ing to lose a lot of good seni­ors, but we’re look­ing for­ward to next year. I think we’re go­ing to be good.”

The Raid­ers were plenty good enough to keep a de­pleted Wash­ing­ton team at arm’s length. In the two weeks lead­ing up to the an­nu­al Thanks­giv­ing show­down, the Eagles (8-4) had ex­per­i­enced the highest of highs by win­ning the Pub­lic League title, then the low­est of lows by drop­ping the city title game to LaS­alle by a 41-7 score.

On top of that, Wash­ing­ton’s 1,700-yard rush­er Ha­keem Sill­man, a seni­or, was forced to miss the game after skip­ping prac­tices all week. Head coach Ron Co­hen said that Sill­man had a leg in­jury all week. Sill­man turned up on the Eagles’ side­line for the game, wear­ing his No. 2 jer­sey but no pads.

“He’s hurt. He’s run hard all year and got beat up,” Co­hen said. “He didn’t make the dif­fer­ence (in the game). It came down to block­ing, tack­ling and who made the least mis­takes.”

Wash­ing­ton’s mis­takes gave Ry­an all the early fuel it needed. Barely three minutes in­to the game, sopho­more line­back­er Con­nor Golden in­ter­cep­ted a pass by Wash­ing­ton’s Alf­onso Au­gustine at the Eagles’ 25. A per­son­al foul pen­alty then moved the ball to the Eagles’ 12.

From there, Row­an ran twice for five yards, then Anusky dumped a screen pass to Row­an for a sev­en-yard score. The stunned Wash­ing­ton de­fense didn’t lay a fin­ger on the half­back dur­ing his quick gal­lop in­to the end zone.

Ry­an missed the ex­tra point kick.

The Raid­ers’ de­fense also grabbed the early ini­ti­at­ive, pin­ning the Eagles in their own half throughout the first quarter. Six un­der­class­men saw most of the play­ing time, in­clud­ing sopho­mores Sean Boylan (end), Joe Hans­bury (tackle), Jesse Wire­man (line­back­er), Golden (line­back­er) and Bobby Ro­mano (corner­back), along with the ju­ni­or Du­mond (safety). Seni­ors Chris Mc­Monagle (end), Joe Sul­li­van (tackle), Lamar Richard­son (line­back­er), Mike Palmer (corner­back) and Kev­in Newell (safety) sup­plied the ex­per­i­ence.

Du­mond and Golden provided the big break­through two minutes in­to the second quarter when Du­mond blocked a Wash­ing­ton punt, then Golden scooped up the loose ball and raced 40 yards for a touch­down and a 12-0 Raid­ers lead.

“I lined up in the ‘A’ gap (between cen­ter and guard) and used my speed,” said Du­mond, who was lis­ted at 5-feet-6 and 160 pounds in the pro­gram. “I got through (the line) and my team­mate scooped and scored and it changed the game.”

“We schemed it a little bit,” McArdle said. “We thought we could get (a block). We didn’t have one all year un­til today, so I really wanted it.”

The work was just be­gin­ning for Row­an and the Ry­an of­fense.

With a sol­id, if not com­fort­able half­time lead, McArdle chal­lenged the Raid­ers to run the ball and con­trol the clock in the second half.

On Ry­an’s ini­tial third-quarter pos­ses­sion and with Anusky stand­ing on the side­line on crutches, Row­an car­ried the rock eight straight plays, not count­ing a run that was called back due to a pro­ced­ure pen­alty. Os­taszewski ran three times in the drive that ul­ti­mately ended with a Ry­an punt, but took more than sev­en minutes off the game clock and changed field po­s­i­tion.

The O-line fea­tured ju­ni­or Ry­an McGee and Hans­bury at tackles, Mc­Monagle and seni­or Dan Mul­hol­land at guards, ju­ni­or Ed Bier at cen­ter and Boylan at tight end. Seni­or Sean Mac­cari handled lead block­er du­ties at full­back.

“(McArdle) told me be­fore the game that I was prob­ably go­ing to get twenty or thirty car­ries,” Row­an said. “You take a lot of hits (do­ing that), but that’s part of the job and I have fun do­ing it. The line has been work­ing their butts off all year. Big holes were open and it made it easy for me.”

“We really chal­lenged (our guys) at half­time to be phys­ic­al, es­pe­cially since they were load­ing the (tackle) box against us,” McArdle said.

Per­sist­ence paid off in points the next time the Raid­ers had the ball as they moved 43 yards in five plays to take a three-touch­down lead. Os­taszewski faked a han­doff to Row­an then passed to wide re­ceiv­er Nick Le­Van for a 29-yard score. 

Matt Mar­tinez con­ver­ted the ex­tra point.

“Ob­vi­ously, we hated to see Mike go out like that. He’s our heart and soul. But we have a lot of con­fid­ence in Mark and you saw that in the second half,” said Ry­an head coach Frank McArdle.

Ry­an threatened to ex­tend the lead mo­ments later when Mc­Monagle re­covered a Wash­ing­ton fumble at the Eagles’ 35. But Wash­ing­ton’s Ad­onis Foun­tain in­ter­cep­ted Os­taszewski’s pass near the goal line on the next play.

Wash­ing­ton made its deep­est for­ay in­to Ry­an ter­rit­ory with six minutes to go in the game, but failed to con­vert a fourth-and-10 from Ry­an’s 19 as Golden tackled run­ning back Ken Ever­age for a four-yard loss.

“They’re a good foot­ball team. We knew that go­ing in,” Wash­ing­ton coach Co­hen said. “And they play in the Cath­ol­ic League, which is stronger than the Pub­lic League.”

Ry­an’s Palmer ended the game by in­ter­cept­ing Wash­ing­ton’s Dav­id Gav­rilov near mid­field. Du­mond also in­ter­cep­ted a Gav­rilov pass in the game. In all, Ry­an had four takeaways and one turnover.

Row­an fin­ished with 22 car­ries for 83 yards. Ever­age led Wash­ing­ton with 13 car­ries for 45 yards.

Co­hen was proud of the Eagles’ sea­son ac­com­plish­ments des­pite the de­feat.

“We were picked num­ber three in the Pub­lic League and came out num­ber one,” he said. “I can’t com­plain about that. And you’ve got to cred­it Ry­an. This was a cham­pi­on­ship game for them.” ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or

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