Northeast Times

A family affair

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Mark Os­taszewski Jr. is a two-way seni­or standout at Arch­bish­op Ry­an; in 1990, his fath­er also com­peted for the Raid­ers.   

Like fath­er, like son: Seni­or quar­ter­back Mark Os­taszewski (middle) hopes to fol­low in his dad’s foot­steps and win a Cath­ol­ic League title at Ry­an. ED MOR­RONE / TIMES PHOTO

In the au­tumn of 1990, Arch­bish­op Ry­an seni­or run­ning back Mark Os­taszewski helped lead the Raid­ers to their first of four con­sec­ut­ive Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on­ships. The di­min­ut­ive back, stand­ing just 5-foot-6, was a first team All-City se­lec­tion and an in­stru­ment­al part of a bur­geon­ing dyn­asty.

Fast for­ward 23 years later and you will once again see an Os­taszewski lead­ing the way for the Raid­ers. Only this time, he lines up on both sides of the ball and is the spark who keeps his team ig­nited.

Mark Os­taszewski Jr. is a two-way seni­or standout (QB/DB) for head coach Frank McArdle’s sud­denly rel­ev­ant Raid­er squad that dis­mantled neigh­bor­ing Ben­s­alem High of the Sub­urb­an One League Na­tion­al Con­fer­ence, 53-0, last Thursday even­ing in a non-league con­test for both schools. The Raid­ers, of the power­ful Cath­ol­ic League AAAA Di­vi­sion, climbed to a per­fect 3-0 on the sea­son with the meat of their sched­ule still to come.

So far, the eld­er Os­taszewski is im­pressed with his son’s mat­ur­a­tion at the quar­ter­back po­s­i­tion.

“I coached my son at Cal­vary (Ath­let­ic As­so­ci­ation, in Mill­brook), and he al­ways played run­ning back like me,” re­called the proud fath­er dur­ing a re­cent phone in­ter­view. “He came home after fresh­man try­outs and told me that he was prac­ti­cing with the quar­ter­backs. He said it was a num­bers game (with so many guys try­ing out for run­ning back), and that he liked his chances lin­ing up un­der cen­ter.”

The young QB must have known what he was talk­ing about. Ever since tak­ing over the reins of the varsity of­fense in 2012, Os­taszewski has proven that he can more than hold his own des­pite be­ing un­der­sized (he is lis­ted at 5-foot-8). Against Ben­s­alem, Os­taszewski com­pleted 5 of 8 passes for 151 yards and a touch­down. He also ad­ded 60 yards rush­ing on just five car­ries.

The of­fense tal­lied 301 yards rush­ing on 33 car­ries, as ju­ni­or run­ning backs Samir Bul­lock and Sean O’Don­nell ran rough­shod through the Owls de­fense. Bul­lock ended the game with 136 yards on 17 car­ries and three touch­downs. O’Don­nell car­ried the ball 10 times for 103 yards and two scores.

The of­fens­ive line that helped pro­duce those gaudy stats in­cluded tackles An­drew Hund and Joe Hans­bury, along with guards Tom Haughey and Nick Werez. An­drew Voro­s­cak manned the cen­ter po­s­i­tion while John Liguori lined up at tight end.

When asked to com­pare and con­trast the teams he played on with the cur­rent Raid­ers squad, Mark Sr. had a hard time mak­ing com­par­is­ons.

“The of­fenses of today are far more com­plex,” he sug­ges­ted. “Things are much more spread out, and there is more passing in­volved. When I played, we were a run­ning team. We ran more off-tackle stuff.”

The eld­er Os­taszewski ad­mit­ted that, des­pite coach­ing his son in pound ball, he was un­aware of his skill to throw a foot­ball.

“I didn’t know he had that good of an arm, but I was def­in­itely faster,” he said with a laugh.

By start­ing 3-0 and outscor­ing op­pon­ents 132-27, the young­er Os­taszewski and his team­mates have high ex­pect­a­tions for the up­com­ing Cath­ol­ic League cam­paign. The team showed over­all im­prove­ment on both sides of the ball last year while start­ing a ma­jor­ity of un­der­class­men.

The spe­cial teams unit is led by all-pur­pose back and re­turn­ing first team All-Cath­ol­ic se­lec­tion Bobby Ro­mano, who con­trib­uted a spe­cial teams touch­down re­turn for the second con­sec­ut­ive week. Ad­di­tion­ally, the off­season trans­fer ad­di­tion of Bul­lock (an­oth­er first team se­lec­tion) from Fath­er Judge has the ex­cite­ment level reach­ing a fever pitch on Ry­an’s cam­pus.

“The seni­ors have been to­geth­er, and we’ve played a lot of varsity ball since we were sopho­mores,” noted the con­fid­ent sig­nal caller on his way to the team bus after the rout of Ben­s­alem. “We want to put it all to­geth­er and win.” 

This year’s sched­ule has to match up as one of the most dif­fi­cult in South­east­ern Pennsylvania. In ad­di­tion to fa­cing their yearly chal­lenges in AAAA with the likes of an­nu­al powers La Salle and St. Joseph’s Prep, the Raid­ers also ad­ded AAA powers Car­din­al O’Hara (whom they already de­feated, 37-20, in Week 1) and Arch­bish­op Wood to the mix. And don’t for­get the an­nu­al Thanks­giv­ing Day game with Pub­lic League per­en­ni­al power and neigh­bor­hood rival George Wash­ing­ton.

“I ac­cept the chal­lenge to play the best,” the young­er Os­taszewski said. “Play­ing the best is the way to make an im­pact on our pro­gram.”

A Mo­ment to Hon­or a Le­gend

Mark Os­taszewski and his wife, Brid­get, were on hand, as al­ways, last Thursday to cheer on their son as he quar­ter­backed the Raid­ers to their third straight win. Just pri­or to the game, they joined with oth­er fans in a spe­cial mo­ment of si­lence in hon­or of John Quinn, the le­gendary foot­ball coach and long­time teach­er at Arch­bish­op Ry­an, who passed away on Sept. 8.

In ad­di­tion to the ini­tials ‘AR’ that ad­orns the side of every Ry­an foot­ball hel­met, a spe­cial decal with the ini­tials ‘JQ’ was ad­ded to the oth­er side of the hel­met to fur­ther hon­or the coach­ing icon.

“Mr. Quinn had a huge im­pact on the Ry­an com­munity,” McArdle said after Thursday’s win. “He was with the kids every day in the weight room (pre­vi­ously named in his hon­or) and at prac­tice. And per­son­ally, from my first day on the job, Mr. Quinn has been a ment­or to me. He con­tin­ued en­cour­aging me dur­ing my first couple of years of coach­ing when we struggled (to win games).”

Nobody has ever gone through the Ry­an foot­ball pro­gram without get­ting to know a little something about Quinn. In fact, the eld­er Os­taszewski was only a sopho­more when Quinn won the 1988 Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on­ship.

“I ac­tu­ally got in on one play dur­ing that game,” he re­called. “I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘Please don’t give me the ball.’”

Os­taszewski’s name ap­pears on the game ball, along with the oth­er play­ers who helped Quinn win his only cham­pi­on­ship.

“It was just great to see coach Quinn win and to be a part of it,” he said.

Quinn, who was raised in North Phil­adelphia, starred on the grid­iron at North Cath­ol­ic be­fore go­ing on to play at Notre Dame. In ad­di­tion to his three coach­ing stints at Arch­bish­op Ry­an, Quinn coached at North, Ro­man Cath­ol­ic and Con­well-Egan. ••

You can reach at jfleming6@msn.com.

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