"I'm always pretty excited out there. I celebrate when I make a good play. You'll hear noise. I don't do it to taunt anybody. It's just to show I'm really into what I'm doing, and that I love helping my team."
Gratz has been playing Public League football since 1929. Thanks to Friday's 18-6 win at West Philadelphia, during which Sheard played a prominent role in two of three safeties, the Bulldogs are 8-0 for the first time ever. They'll be gunning for the regular championship in AAA Friday night when they host Boys' Latin Charter (7-1). (Gratz' 1933 squad was 8-0-1 - scoreless tie in second game - before losing to Frankford, 7-0, in a special showdown at Franklin Field for the Pub title. The game began on a snow-covered surface and was played in sleet and biting winds. Gratz had allowed no points all season.)
Sheard's first safety came on a sack. Later, after a mad-scramble block, he combined with Khalil Hunter to bring down the punter.
When Sheard was asked whether he knew who blocked the punt, he laughed and said, "Not sure. You gotta watch the film for that."
Sheard, a transfer from Del-Val Charter, lives on Wayne Avenue near Apsley Street, and is in only his third year of football. He earns 90-plus in his classes and is about to tackle the SAT. While he'd prefer to remain at end in college, he realizes a switch to inside linebacker is probably in the offing.
Of his late grid start, Sheard said: "I was going to play in ninth grade, but my family moved twice, and it was kind of a crazy year. I always saw football as just a fun thing to do. But now, I watch those college games and I'm always thinking, 'I want to be part of that.' I've set my mind to it."
In all, Sheard totaled 10 tackles vs. West, including four sacks.
"He helps us a great deal on offense, too," coach Erik Zipay said. "He's a tight end, fullback, H-back, Rhino-back . . . He's just a real good player and kid."
Quarterback James Johnson can take a long sniff of the city record for highest percent of direct involvement in offensive plays (91.1 percent, 41 of 45) while leading Mastery North past Bok, 18-8. He rushed 20 times for 30 yards and passed 15-for-21 for 167 yards and three TDs. North Catholic QB Brian Mitchell (92.5 vs. Conwell-Egan, 62 of 67, 15/47) has owned the mark since 2002 . . . Bok, flagged 15 times for 142 yards, has dropped back-to-back games in the same season for the first time since 2001 . . . John Mastrando, one of Neumann-Goretti's captains, was dislodged from the QB spot by soph Ray Lenhart before Week 1. He's serving as the long snapper and got to throw his first pass late in Saturday night's loss to West Catholic. It came oh-so-close to producing a TD, which would have been hard for West assistant Eric Rutherford to stomach. He'd been yelling to the Burrs' second-team defense, "Keep the glaze on that doughnut!" . . . Greg White, WC's star rusher, is scoring 19 points a game. A basketball Burr hasn't averaged that many since Marshall Taylor (20.0) in 2004 . . .
Lineman Dan Prieto was Wood's homecoming king . . . In the first half, Malvern senior Billy "Moose" Ford and Penn Charter soph Pat McCain combined to average 33 yards on 11 completions. McCain is a cousin of PC grad Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons QB), and his 275-yard effort topped Ryan's best at PC by 77 yards . . . Malvern junior Troy Gallen is averaging an outrageous 38.6 yards on nine receptions, and has turned six into TDs . . . Imhotep's Denniston "DJ" Moore, who has kicked 23 extra points this season, tried a 36-yard field goal vs. Prep Charter. The ball hit the back of a blocker's helmet and caromed right into Moore's arms. Everyone froze and Moore finally tossed the ball to a ref. As he knows now, he could have advanced it . . . Junior teammate DeAndre Scott, a stellar d-back, has received a "soft offer" from Tennessee. "They want him to come to their camp to show he can run a 4.6 40," coach Albie Crosby said. "Won't be a problem. He's done a 4.52" . . . DeVaughn Shields posted two of Boys' Latin's five interceptions vs. Franklin . . . Yahmere Williams has thrown for two TDs in each of his five QB starts for University City . . . Furness has posted no passing yards in three of its last five games, going 0-for-5 therein . . . As Germantown's players ran to their sideline before a 36-26 loss to Central, co-captain Donavin Winckler roared, "We don't need men on our sideline! Men don't win championships! We need animals! We need beasts!"
City Top 10
1. St. Joseph's Prep (7-0)
2. La Salle (7-1)
3. Archbishop Wood (6-2)
4. Imhotep Charter (8-0)
5. Roman Catholic (4-3)
6. Cardinal O'Hara (5-3)
7. Malvern Prep (5-2)
8. West Catholic (5-2)
9. Episcopal Academy (7-0)
10. Frankford (6-2)
Under consideration: Archbishop Ryan (5-3), George Washington (7-1), Central (5-2), Simon Gratz Charter (8-0).
Contact Ted Silary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
High school coverage online at www.philly.com/rally.