Judge looks to keep Lincoln rivalry one-sided

Judge’s Tom Bay­er (left) and Mike Ian­nacone.

The Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln Railsplit­ters and Fath­er Judge Cru­saders both have los­ing re­cords, but one of them will have a happy Thanks­giv­ing.

The foot­ball rivals will meet for the 38th time on Thursday at 10 a.m. at Lin­coln.

Judge took ad­vant­age of sev­en Lin­coln turnovers last Novem­ber to post a 48-7 vic­tory. The Cru­saders have won 22 in a row in the series and have a run­away all-time re­cord of 33-3-1.

Lin­coln’s last vic­tory came in 1989, when the Railsplit­ters were 7-0 win­ners in a game played in the snow.

Judge (2-6) star­ted the sea­son with a loss in Ire­land. The Cru­saders lost all four games in the Cath­ol­ic League Class AAAA Di­vi­sion and failed to qual­i­fy for the play­offs.

“We lost six games. We’re dis­ap­poin­ted to be 2-6,” said coach Tom Coyle. “But 3-6 would be a lot bet­ter than 2-7.”

Lin­coln (4-7) qual­i­fied for the Pub­lic League Class AAAA play­offs, but suffered a lop­sided loss to Cent­ral. The Railsplit­ters have lost two more games since then.

“This is a big game for us,” said seni­or out­side line­back­er/run­ning back An­drew Galla­gh­er. “If we win, it will be like we won the cham­pi­on­ship.”

Judge ap­pears to be a lot bet­ter than its re­cord would in­dic­ate. The Cru­saders had an easy vic­tory over Coun­cil Rock South and a qual­ity win over Bon­ner-Pren­der­gast. They led for­mid­able State Col­lege (Pa.) be­fore los­ing, dropped a one-point over­time game against Arch­bish­op Ry­an and had a chance against Ro­man Cath­ol­ic un­til a couple of spe­cial teams break­downs.

“We want to end the sea­son with a win, ob­vi­ously,” said seni­or quar­ter­back and co-cap­tain Ry­an Mack­iewicz. “It’s a rivalry. There will be a big crowd. We want to go out on a good note, es­pe­cially the seni­ors.”

Lin­coln coach Ed Mc­Get­tigan, a 1988 Judge gradu­ate, was hop­ing his team could cap­ture the Pub­lic League Sil­ver Di­vi­sion, but the Railsplit­ters lost to Fur­ness. Still, they man­aged to reach the post­season even though op­pon­ents for­feited games to Lin­coln in two straight weeks.

Judge had three first team All-Cath­ol­ic se­lec­tions in seni­or of­fens­ive tackle Vince LoStracco, ju­ni­or kick­er Con­nor Fo­ley and sopho­more run­ning back Samir Bul­lock.

Fo­ley, a three-year first-team­er, has kicked five field goals.

LoStracco, a 280-plus-pound­er who is re­ceiv­ing col­lege in­terest from Val­paraiso in In­di­ana, broke his hand in prac­tice two weeks ago.

The Cru­saders have been hurt by in­jur­ies. Mack­iewicz, who has thrown for 812 yards and six touch­downs and rushed for four TDs, sep­ar­ated his shoulder in the team’s pre­vi­ous game on Oct. 26. He’s hop­ing to play on Thursday.

“He’s had him­self a good foot­ball sea­son,” Coyle said.

Bul­lock stepped in for Mar­quis Sea­mon, who broke his wrist in the game in Ire­land. He’s rushed for 916 yards and five touch­downs.

“That’s pretty im­press­ive for an eight-game sea­son,” Coyle said.

Oth­er Cru­saders hav­ing good sea­sons in­clude seni­or safety/run­ning back Den­nis Boice, seni­or out­side line­back­er/tight end Brandon Spatz and ju­ni­or cen­ter/de­fens­ive tackle Tom Bay­er.

Coyle has seen Lin­coln play Over­brook and Dob­bins in per­son and has viewed a few tapes of the Railsplit­ters. He de­scribes them as a phys­ic­al team with a tal­en­ted of­fens­ive back­field. He ex­pects them to try to stop the run­ning game.

“We’ll see eight in the box and will have to throw it at times,” he said.

Lin­coln has played just one more game than Judge, hav­ing ac­cep­ted the for­feits from Ol­ney and Thomas Edis­on.

The team’s top run­ner is seni­or Khalil “Duke” Walk­er, a speed­ster and mem­ber of the track team. He’s caught four touch­down passes and also plays corner­back.

“He’s our main of­fens­ive threat,” Mc­Get­tigan said.

DeWitt John­son also gets some car­ries, while seni­or Miguel Sanc­hez is a three-year starter at quar­ter­back.

“We dis­trib­ute the ball pretty evenly,” Mc­Get­tigan said. “We’re pretty evenly di­vided between the run and the pass.”

Mc­Get­tigan likes his team’s speed. He dis­misses Judge’s poor re­cord, point­ing to the Cru­saders’ tough sched­ule, and is hop­ing his squad plays a mis­take-free game.

He ex­pects Judge to try to es­tab­lish a run­ning game, as usu­al.

“They’re go­ing to pound us. We have to gang-tackle and wrap our arms around them. That’s what we’ve been say­ing since Au­gust 13th,” he said, not­ing the start of sum­mer train­ing camp.

Galla­gh­er be­lieves the Railsplit­ters can play with the Cru­saders.

“We’ve had our ups and down, but our team is good. We have a lot of speed on of­fense and de­fense. Our de­fense has got­ten much bet­ter as the sea­son has gone on. We have to bring it to­geth­er in the second half,” he  said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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