Woods' victory Fran-tastic

Fran Rahill (right), the brother of Archbishop Wood football player Chris Rahill, brings water out on the field as Nafeez Brown-Carter receives medical attention.
Fran Rahill (right), the brother of Archbishop Wood football player Chris Rahill, brings water out on the field as Nafeez Brown-Carter receives medical attention. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: October 22, 2012

WHEN HE WASN'T slappin' five, he was tappin' guys on their shoulder pads. And if a smile ever did leave his face, it's doubtful anyone could prove it.

Yes, that Rahill kid experienced all kinds of joy Sunday as Archbishop Wood High rocked visiting Archbishop Carroll, 62-7, in a nonleague football noncontest . . . and we don't mean Chris, a 5-9, 165-pound senior who serves the Vikings as a slot receiver and backup quarterback.

True, Chris also felt spectacular. But the "Giddy Rahill of the Day" was his brother, Fran, an 11-year-old with special needs.

Wood enjoys a strong relationship with Athletes Helping Athletes, a not-for-profit organization that helps special-needs athletes enjoy their own sporting fun while also sharing strong relationships with assorted high school teams in Bucks and Montgomery counties, as well as Philadelphia.

As the captains walked out to midfield for the coin toss, Fran, basking in honorary status, sandwiched himself between Chris and Nick Arcidiacono.

"That was really special," Chris said.

It was also Cool Occurrence No. 2 of Fran's weekend. Another brother, Jerry, a former star at Wood, plays for Ursinus College and leads the team in receptions.

"Fran was at their game Friday night," Chris said. "As the whole team ran out onto the field, he got to lead them. And he was in the locker room at halftime."

Sunday's event was set up a few weeks back.

"And he hasn't stopped talking about it since," Chris said, laughing. "He was so excited. He loves this kind of stuff. He really enjoys being around football.

"He's always trying to pump guys up. Keeps saying, 'Let's go! Let's go!' He just likes being around the players . . . Oh, and he loves helmets. He wants to wear everyone's. He goes around asking guys if he can try on their helmets."

Sometimes, the timing isn't the greatest.

"He was our water boy today, too," Chris said. "At one point our team was on the field and everybody was yelling, 'Where's the water?' Fran was on the sideline, trying on somebody's helmet. I said to him, 'Fran, they're calling for water, dude! Get out there!'

"I'm tellin' ya, he loves helmets. He likes to wear one around the house and act like he's playing football. He's always watching games on TV and he comes to all our Wood games. It's always fun when we have a catch."

Did someone say catch?

Chris posted one, for 9 yards, and it came in scoring drive No. 3, shortly before the end of the first quarter. By that juncture it was supremely obvious that Carroll, undersized and badly outnumbered, was in for an unpleasant experience.

With the mercy-rule clock running, Chris saw only a hint of action after halftime; he QBd a five-play, 66-yard scoring drive, then yielded to another backup, John Hall.

In 2009, Jerry Rahill was the signal-caller (24 rushing/passing TDs; 2,027 combined yards) as Wood advanced to the Class AAA state semis. That job was Chris' as this season began, but in Week 3 he yielded to a promising frosh, Tom Garlick.

"When I first found I wasn't going to be the quarterback anymore, I wasn't that happy about it," Chris said. "The coaches thought it was the best move for the team. We're playing well now and everyone's happy, and I'm enjoying receiver.

"You just have to play the cards you're dealt. I always stay ready [for QB]. Like they say, you're only one play away."

If Chris Rahill were a football-first guy, perhaps the senior-season jolt would have hit him much harder. However, the Chalfont resident's primary sport is lacrosse (attackman), and he has been collared by Mercer University, in Atlanta.

By halftime, Wood owned 228 yards on 23 plays (and a 42-0 lead) while Carroll had been dropped for losses on 12 of its 22 rushes. Two guys split four of those first six TDs - fullback Tyler Smith reached the end zone on his only two carries (15 and six yards) while Anthony Roakes reached pay turf on a 33-yard reception and 49-yard punt return.

Carroll's spirits were lifted 2:22 before game's end when Sean McMorran, the backup QB, rambled 75 yards for a TD.

As McMorran sat on the bench, trying to catch his breath, starting QB Sal Bello walked over and said with a laugh, "That wasn't even close to the right play." Mike McKay, the offensive coordinator, was standing nearby. "Yeah, Sean misunderstood me," he said. "That was a bootleg, a play we don't even have. There's a headline for ya."

The Patriots' joy was short-lived. On Wood's next play, Allan Brown dashed 60 yards for a score.

Soon, the teams were walking across the 50, exchanging handshakes, and Fran Rahill could be spotted chatting up one of the Patriots.

He must have liked the guy's helmet.

"It was awesome having him out here," Chris said. "Just to see how much he enjoyed himself."

Contact Ted Silary at silaryt@phillynews.com.

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