O'Hara outlasts Bonner-Prendergast

Cardinal O'Hara's Thaddius Smith (right) breaks out of the pack on a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. A safety proved the difference in the Lions' 9-7 win. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Cardinal O'Hara's Thaddius Smith (right) breaks out of the pack on a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. A safety proved the difference in the Lions' 9-7 win. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Posted: October 22, 2012

After playing last season at an uncomfortable 335 pounds, Cardinal O'Hara's Carmen Cervella made a commitment to return to the gridiron in better shape.

Along with cutting back on his food intake, the offensive tackle began working out at a local gym with boxing trainer Anthony DiGalbo, who happens to be an assistant coach for rival Bonner-Prendergast.

"I didn't actually do any boxing," said the senior, who has dropped 50 pounds. "I used the jump rope, the speed bag, the heavy bag. It was great for cardio and footwork."

Saturday afternoon, with a slimmed-down Cervella carving out rushing room for Lamont Veal and company, the host Lions edged DiGalbo and the Friars, 9-7, in a Catholic League Class AAA battle marred by seven first-half turnovers.

The 6-foot-1, 285-pound captain last had a serving of pasta, one of his favorite dishes, three months ago.

"It's about being disciplined," he said. "When you buy into it, it's not that hard."

Monday, two days after O'Hara had blown a 20-point lead in a 39-34 loss to Roman Catholic, Cervella spoke up in a team meeting.

"I just talked about us needing to turn things around quickly," he said. "We needed to forget that game and move on."

The Lions improved to 5-3 overall and evened their division mark at 1-1. The Friars (3-4, 1-1) coughed the ball up four times in the opening 21 minutes, including twice inside the O'Hara 7-yard line.

O'Hara's first points came when a snap sailed over punter Jim Haley, also B-P's quarterback, and out of the end zone for a safety.

Midway through the second quarter. Thaddius Smith's 6-yard burst capped a 14-play, 81-yard series and put the Lions in front, 9-0.

Cervella, a second-year starter, plays left tackle.

"I always tell the coaches, 'Run left, run left,' " the 17-year-old said. "I want the ball to come my way."

Said O'Hara coach Danny Algeo: "Carmen pass blocks really well. His drive blocking has gotten better."

Veal carried 21 times for 102 yards. QB Dashawn Darden (12-for-20 passing, 127 yards) ran 13 times for 56 yards. The hosts netted 185 rushing yards on 45 attempts.

The Friars lost Haley, who also plays strong safety, to a high-ankle sprain in the second quarter. His replacement, Colin DiGalbo, completed 5 of 14 throws for 83 yards.

"It's just a totally different thing," Friars coach Greg "Bubba" Bernhardt said of playing without Haley. "We're working all week for what Jimmy does. When he's not in there, it changes everything."

Bonner-Prendergast 0 0 0 7 – 7

Cardinal O'Hara 2 7 0 0 – 9

CO: Safety, snap sailed out of end zone

CO: Thaddius Smith 6 run (Steve Weyler kick)

BP: James Doubet 17 pass from Colin DiGalbo (Bliss Harris kick)


Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ozoneinq.

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