Southern takes no solace in winning

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Southern's Mark Webb (left) tackles Edison's Bryan McDonald during the second quarter.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Southern's Mark Webb (left) tackles Edison's Bryan McDonald during the second quarter.
Posted: October 20, 2013

IT HAD THE feel of a postgame speech after a loss. Southern head coach Frank Natale addressed his team with a serious tone.

"Are you happy with that victory?" he asked. "No, coach," they responded.

Southern dispatched Edison, 28-14, on the road yesterday and clinched the Public League AAAA Silver division title, but after the game there was no celebration.

"I'm not happy at all," said senior Mark Webb, a 6-1, 265-pound offensive/defensive lineman. "We didn't play Southern Ram football today."

OK, so it wasn't pretty, but the Rams did hold the Owls to minus-17 yards in the first half. Certainly that warrants something of a smile, right?

"I feel as though we didn't play well at all," Webb continued. "I understand they had minus-17 yards at the half, but they got some yards in the first quarter."

That mentality makes more sense when you learn that Webb has grown accustomed to winning. As a member of Edward Bok Tech, Webb was on teams that claimed three titles from 2010-12.

Add to that a promise the team made this season to get its head coach a title in three different divisions and the disappointment becomes clearer.

Tom DeFelice skippered Bok's AA title team in 2010. Natale was the head man for the AA title in 2011 and the AAA crown in 2012.

"I tell my coach every day, 'Coach, we're going to get you a title.' And I am a man of my word," Webb said.

His team got off to a sluggish start against Edison, a team that hadn't scored in two full games.

Southern ran just seven plays and gained 12 yards in a scoreless first quarter. The Rams finally broke through on Bryant Hudgins' 5-yard TD run.

Hudgins, a 5-10, 183-pound junior running back, didn't get much help up front but still managed 58 yards and two scores.

Senior quarterback Michael Riley threw for 100 yards on 6-for-10 passing, and threw a 40-yard TD pass to fellow senior Rasul Jackson.

Webb led the defense in the first half with three tackles for losses. Naasir Granberry and Dimonte Powell added sacks.

Powell, a 5-10, 235-pound senior linebacker, also recovered a fumble, but the 40-yard line tripped him up with nothing but end zone ahead. Powell smiled wide as his teammates yukked it up.

For the Owls, senior quarterback Bryan McDonald added a late rushing touchdown, but Julius Santos' 47-yard fumble return for a score gave Edison its first points since its 14-0 Week 5 win over Olney Charter.

But for Webb, his attention is now focused on next week's playoff matchup with Samuel Fels.

Football has been a useful outlet for the young man whose mother, Kelli Grace Bullock, passed away in a car accident when he was 3.

"I used to let my anger out in the wrong ways," said Webb, who lives with his grandmother, Engrid Bullock, near 50th Street in West Philadelphia.

His size, strength and nimble feet have earned him Division I and II college interest. He said he's interested in mathematics, and also said the transition from Bok to Southern has been free from animosity.

"Southern's not bad to me," he said. "I love the principal [Otis Hackney]. He really is about what he's says. He helps you get into college."

For now, Webb still sees work left on the field. "It's my senior year," he said. "I want to go out with a bang. I don't want to go out with my head down."

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