Episcopal off to impressive start

Posted: September 13, 2012

It's too early for talk of a possible noisemaking run at the program's first Inter-Academic League championship since 2004.

But Episcopal Academy has looked particularly good in the first two weeks of the season, scoring a combined 85 points and yielding zero.

"We learned a lot about our players last year, and they learned about us," second-year Churchmen coach Todd Fairlie said. "We did come into this season expecting success."

Episcopal, which went 3-7 overall and 1-4 in the Inter-Ac in 2011, opened this season with a 44-0 rout of Del-Val Charter. It was followed by last Friday night's 41-0 blitzing of perennial Del-Val League power Interboro.

Of easily beating Interboro, Fairlie said, "We had a good game plan going in, and we kind of jumped on them early."

The catalyst of the squad's run-first spread offense is dual-threat quarterback Adam Strouss. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior missed five games last year after suffering a foot injury in Week 2.

"He throws a great ball," Fairlie said, "and he's as good a runner as we have on the team. Right now, he's kind of hitting on all cylinders."

Strouss, who threw for 130 yards and three scores vs. the Bucs, has drawn considerable interest from Ivy and Patriot League schools. At the next level, he could end up playing wide receiver or defensive back.

Also providing a spark on offense for senior-heavy Episcopal are wingback Ian Strain, who has committed to play lacrosse at Lehigh, and fullbacks Anthony Feliziani and Cody Russell. Quinn Hager is a savvy wideout.

Up front, the charge is led by tackles Jack Florio (6-2, 270) and Dante Addona (6-2, 220), center John Minnicozzi (5-10, 235), and tight ends Matt McLaughlin (6-3, 210) and Evan Butts (6-4, 215). Addona will play lacrosse at St. John's.

The playmakers in the Churchmen's 3-4 defense are ends Addona and Butts, outside linebacker McLaughlin, inside linebackers Russell and Teddy Ibarguen, and cornerback Terrell Smith.

Against Interboro, McLaughlin returned an interception 32 yards for a score; Strouss added two rushing TDs; and Hager, who averages nearly 40 yards per punt, converted five extra-point kicks.

"Our goal is to compete for a league championship," Fairlie said. "I like the way we've started. We'll see what happens."

Big-play receiver. With Donnie Reed turning eight receptions into 211 yards and three TDs, Bensalem surprised host Pennridge, 24-21, in overtime Friday at Poppy Yoder Field.

In two outings, Reed, a 6-1, 190-pound senior, has 13 catches for 276 yards and six TDs.

"I could see during the summer that he was going to be an important part of our passing game," Owls coach Kevin Kelly said.

Against the Rams, Bensalem (1-1) won despite allowing junior halfback Mike Class to rush for 225 yards and three TDs.

"They controlled the line of scrimmage and kind of dominated the game up front," Kelly said. "Class is terrific. He had a good game against us last year, too.

Pennridge turned the ball over four times, including three first-half fumbles inside the red zone. In OT, Reed's end-zone interception set the stage for Alec Rosenfield's deciding 17-yard field goal.

"I thought our kids persevered pretty well," Kelly said. "They kept competing and made some plays at the end."

In addition to Reed, Bensalem's spread offense is sparked by QB Kevin Hopkins, a second-year starter, and running backs Ian Pisarchuk, Qhyle Elijah, and Alex Arcangeli. The other wideouts are Jalen Nieves and John McCarthy.

An offensive line that needs to begin carving out more space for Hopkins and company is led by tackle Richie Duncan-Murphy (6-3, 270) and guard Zach Shore (5-8, 210).

The Owls went 1-6 in the Suburban One League National Conference last season. "Our goal isn't to compete - it's to win," Kelly said. "I want our kids to expect to go out and beat whatever team we're playing."

Extra points. St. Joseph's Prep will open next season against host Dallas Jesuit Prep. Southern Methodist University's Gerald J. Ford Stadium is among the possible game sites. St. Joe's Prep is in talks to begin the 2014 campaign in San Diego.

In Central Bucks South's first two games, Josh Adams, a 6-1, 182-pound sophomore tailback, has carried 39 times for 463 yards and 10 TDs.

Oxford junior Ethan Herb has completed 13 of 27 passes for 188 yards and three scores. Teammate Musty Mahmud, a junior halfback, has rushed 31 times for 130 yards and two TDs.

In Haverford School's 13-12 loss to visiting Cardinal O'Hara, Fords linebacker Matt Galambos notched eight of his game-high 10 tackles in the opening 24 minutes. At tight end, the Pittsburgh recruit finished with three catches for 48 yards.

In North Penn's 24-10 win over Archbishop Wood, the Knights outgained the Vikings, 169-41, in the second half.


Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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