Tennent football enjoying comforts of home field

Posted: September 14, 2008

Tropical Storm Hanna pushed back the opening three days, but William Tennent's newly renovated Claude Lodge Field was unveiled Monday when the Panthers hosted Central Bucks West in a nonleague football game.

The amenities include a new Second Grade Turf surface, eight-lane track, scoreboard, concession stands with bathrooms, and stands for 3,500-plus spectators. Impressive - and long overdue for a squad that last season had to play all but two games on the road while waiting for its stadium to be updated.

"It's an awesome field," Jim Aguirre, Tennent's senior fullback and inside linebacker, said. "Everything is perfect."

Perfect, except for the first game result. The young, undersize and mistake-prone Panthers yielded a 97-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff, gave up 226 yards on the ground, and bowed to the Bucks, 25-7.

So much for the possibility of an uplifting, euphoria-filled ending to Tennent's homecoming. (Centennial School District administrators will hold the official grand-opening ceremony for the stadium Friday at 7 p.m., before the Panthers take on Council Rock North).

The new digs are great, but it may be one of the few joys for Tennent's coaches, players and fans this season. This team is S-M-A-L-L. And defensively, as coach Biz Keeny acknowledged, it needs to make big strides in a hurry and "stop somebody."

On the positive side, Aguirre and his teammates did not seem to easily accept the 18-point home loss to C.B. West. Afterward, there were pained looks and talk of poor execution. "We came out intense but made too many mistakes," Aguirre said. "Our fans are great every year. We wish we could have given them a win."

Tennent, 1-10 last season, is moving from the Suburban One League Continental Conference to the National Conference. The league's realignment was based largely on geography. Against the likes of Neshaminy (1,394 male students) and Pennsbury (1,508), smaller Tennent (789) will, understandably, be hugely overmatched.

At least the Panthers' two best chances for victory, against similarly struggling Harry S Truman and Bensalem, will be played on their new turf and in front of their fans.

Thumbs up. To St. Anthony (N.Y.) for not letting the threat of bad weather get in the way of playing St. Joseph's Prep on Sept. 6. The Long Island school made a weekend out of the game, arriving early and taking in Penn's scrimmage against Widener at Franklin Field before barely losing to the Hawks, 7-6.

Thumbs down. To Brooklyn Poly Prep not only for bailing out of the Sept. 6 game against host Roman Catholic, but also, according to a source close to the Roman team, for proposing a day before the scheduled contest that the Cahillites visit Brooklyn to play on the same day and time. Convenient solution, huh?

Bookworthy. For lovers of high school football, we highly recommend the Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide.

The eighth annual publication includes information on every high school, college and junior-college team in Pennsylvania: schedules, classifications, last year's team record, mascots, school addresses, state records, past district champions, all-state teams, etc.

Cost of the 384-page book is $22, including shipping and handling. For information on how to order (there's a PayPal option), go to www.pafootballnews.com.

No. 1 ranking. Lacrosse Magazine ranked La Salle No. 1 in the country in its top-25 poll for the 2009 season.

La Salle, which is leaving the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association for the PIAA, last season went 31-2, won its 14th Catholic League championship in 16 years, claimed the EPSLA crown, and earned the Keystone Cup for the second time in five seasons.

Also among Lacrosse Magazine's preseason top 25 were No. 12 Malvern and No. 18 Lawrenceville (N.J.).

Quotable. Cheltenham football coach Joe Gro, on his decision to schedule powerhouse St. Joseph's Prep on Oct. 11: "Our options were playing a Class A team, nobody, or them. I'd rather give the kids some legitimate competition."

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien

at 610-313-8019 or robrien@phillynews.com.

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