On offense, Hoffman, positioned at right tackle, helped La Salle sprint to a 24-0 lead.
"It was kind of a statement game for us," the 17-year-old said. "We had won our first three games, but we were looking to click in all facets - offense, defense, and special teams. For the most part, I think we did that."
Because of injuries to fellow linemen David Geppert and Bill Frusco, Hoffman has switched from guard to tackle. Against the Friars, the Explorers, 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, were also without rock-solid guard Tom Spiteri (flu).
"I like playing guard better," he said. "I think the blocking is pretty physical. On the inside, you're pulling a little more. And you get more opportunities to make downfield blocks."
At defensive end, Hoffman, a third-year varsity member, paved the way for La Salle's fifth tally of the first half and handed an 18th birthday gift to cornerback Chris Rocco.
Hoffman, first closing off the outside lane, stripped halfback Troy Gallen of the ball. Rocco, who was there waiting, scooped it up at the Malvern 30-yard line, and ran untouched to pay dirt. Ryan Winslow's extra-point boot made it 31-0.
"I saw what looked like was going to be a reverse," Hoffman said. "I just tried to make the tackle. I didn't see that I had knocked it loose until after making the tackle."
On defense, Hoffman, a second-year starter, was joined up front by fellow ends Jon Naji and Ryan Coonahan (third-quarter sack), and tackles Luke Persichetti, David Losier, and Andrew Carlone. The Explorers rotate as many as eight players.
The linebacking corps also played a key role in derailing Malvern's wing-T attack. Mike Eife (five), Zaire Franklin (five), and Trent Simmons (four) were involved in a combined 14 tackles. Strong safety/outside linebacker Andrew Eidenshink recovered a second-quarter fumble.
Hoffman, of Collegeville, began playing football when he was a seventh grader at Arcola Middle School. "Before that, I played soccer and basketball," he said. "Those sports helped develop my footwork and agility."
His father was a gridder (he earned all-Bux Mont League honors in 1981) and heavyweight wrestler at Wissahickon. His uncle, Kevin Iaquinto, played hoops for La Salle High in the mid-1980s.
In addition to Navy, Hoffman, a top-notch student, is considering Harvard and Princeton. "They're all great schools," he said. "You couldn't go wrong with any of them."
Friday night lights. The first night game at Cardinal O'Hara's turf field, which made its debut in 2010, will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, when the Lions host Archbishop Wood in the Catholic League Class AAA opener for both squads.
Trivia answer. In Sunday's column, readers were asked to name William Tennent's head coach and quarterback when the Panthers defeated Neshaminy, 20-8, in 1991.
Bill Saybolt was Tennent's boss, and Jay Jones, formerly a wide receiver, was the signal-caller. Jones went on to play cornerback at the University of Pittsburgh and now coaches Pennridge's running backs and defensive backs.
Bob Kacmar, of Downingtown, was the first to answer correctly.
Extra points. In Saturday's loss to La Salle, Malvern outside linebacker Jake Anderson registered 10 tackles, including six solo stops. Teammate Jordan Andrews, a lineman, posted a third-quarter sack. . . . Saturday night's nonleague tilt between Bonner-Prendergast and Roman Catholic, held at Northeast, was called off due to lightning. It was stopped in the second quarter, with the Cahillites ahead by 21-14. With Catholic League division play starting next weekend, it might be resumed, depending on the playoff status of the teams, at the end of the regular season.
Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10
Records are through Saturday.
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. La Salle (1) 4-0
2. Downingtown East (2) 4-0
3. St. Joseph's Prep (3) 3-0
4. Arch. Wood (4) 3-1
5. Garnet Valley (5) 4-0
6. Ridley (6) 4-0
7. North Penn (7) 2-2
8. Roman Catholic (8) 2-1
9. Coatesville (10) 2-2
10. C. Bucks South (NR) 4-0
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Imhotep Charter (4-0), Malvern Prep (2-2), Pottsgrove (4-0), Souderton (3-1), Spring-Ford (4-0), Unionville (3-1).
- Rick O'Brien
Contact Rick O'Brien at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @ozoneinq. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone