Rick O'Brien: A power duel for Malvern and La Salle

Malvern Prep's Eric Purnell (7) has rushed for 245 yards and four touchdowns.La Salle is ranked No. 1. Malvern Prep is at No. 9. CURT HUDSON / For The Inquirer
Malvern Prep's Eric Purnell (7) has rushed for 245 yards and four touchdowns.La Salle is ranked No. 1. Malvern Prep is at No. 9. CURT HUDSON / For The Inquirer

Perennial champions to square off.

Posted: September 21, 2012

After a two-year break, perennial Southeastern Pennsylvania powers La Salle and Malvern Prep meet again.

The No. 1-ranked Explorers (3-0) and No. 9 Malvern (2-1) will square off at

2 p.m. Saturday at the Friars' Pellegrini Athletic Complex.

La Salle is prepping for a run at a fifth straight Catholic League title. Malvern continues on the road toward a fifth Inter-Ac League crown in the last six years.

In the head-to-head series, the Explorers won in 2007 (21-14) and 2009 (28-7). The Friars, en route to a 10-0 campaign and the area's final No. 1 ranking, cruised, 47-21, in 2008.

La Salle's offense, averaging 32 points, is sparked by quarterback Chris Kane, wideout Sean Coleman, running back Jared Herrmann, and handyman Jimmy Herron.

Kane has connected on 41 of 63 passes for 672 yards and nine touchdowns. Coleman (16 catches) and Herron (nine) have combined for 445 receiving yards.

Malvern's attack is spurred by quarterback Billy "Moose" Ford, halfbacks Eric Purnell and Troy Gallen, fullback Connor Bohs, and wideouts Ryan Ammerman and Joe Carlini.

The strong-armed Ford has completed 20 of 44 throws for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Purnell, a breakaway threat, has rushed for 245 yards and four touchdowns.

The Explorers' stout defense has been spearheaded by linemen David Losier and Tom Spiteri, and linebackers Mike Eife, Zaire Franklin, and Trent Simmons.

For the Friars, leading the charge for a unit that has yielded 16 points a game have been ends Dan Riordan and John Nassib, strong safety Ammerman, and free safety Carlini.

Malvern will be without senior Jim Gentile, a two-way back who suffered a knee injury last week.

All signs point toward a La Salle victory, especially with the way its imposing offensive line has performed, but we smell a turnover-driven upset here.

Pick: Malvern, 23-17.

Last week: 7-4. Overall: 25-8 (.758).

Friday

Northeast (2-1) at Frankford (1-2), 3 p.m. After two straight losses, the Pioneers take out some of their frustration on the Vikings. Pick: Frankford, 26-6.

Germantown (2-1) vs. George Washington (3-0), at Northeast, 7. The Public League Gold Division tilt will be telecast on The Comcast Network. Pick: GW, 28-12.

Central Bucks West (2-1) at Souderton (2-1), 7. The Indians ride the momentum gained in last week's win over Neshaminy. Pick: Souderton, 27-14.

No. 2 Downingtown East (3-0) at No. 10 Coatesville (2-1), 7. Can the Red Raiders find a way to slow down red-hot Downingtown East quarterback Kyle Lauletta? Pick: East, 33-28.

No. 4 Archbishop Wood (2-1) vs. West Catholic (1-1), at Widener, 7:30. It didn't take long for Tom Garlick to take over behind center for Wood. Pick: Wood, 30-14.

Saturday

Haverford School (1-2) at Kennett (3-0), noon. Two bruisers, the Fords' Matt Galambos and the Blue Demons' Jordan Lardani, butt helmets. Pick: Haverford School, 20-16.

Episcopal Academy (3-0) at Hill School (0-1), 7. The Churchmen have blitzed foes by a combined 134-0. Pick: Episcopal, 28-7.

Bonner-Prendergast (1-2) vs. No. 8 Roman Catholic (2-1), at Northeast, 7. The Friars hope to catch the Cahillites looking ahead to St. Joseph's Prep. Pick: Roman, 35-13.


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

at www.philly.com/ozone

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