Messina a versatile cog for Wood

Josh Messina (22), here pressuring North Penn's Austin Shearer, was on Wood teams that won the 2011 state title game and lost last year's.       ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Josh Messina (22), here pressuring North Penn's Austin Shearer, was on Wood teams that won the 2011 state title game and lost last year's.       ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: December 06, 2013

Though his three brothers might say otherwise, Josh Messina is arguably the best in his family to play football for Archbishop Wood.

At the very least, he is the most versatile.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior captain is a fullback and wingback on offense. On the other side, he can line up at defensive end, inside linebacker, or outside linebacker.

"He really never comes off the field," Wood coach Steve Devlin said. "He's got great instincts and quickness. You're never going to be able to outrun him."

The bad news for Devlin and the Vikings is that Josh is the last of Chris and Cathy Messina's football-loving sons. (Chris Messina is Wood's freshman coach.)

James Messina (Class of 2011) was a linebacker for Wood, Dave (2010) played offensive guard, and Tom (2009) was a defensive end. The oldest brother, Chris, was a nose guard at Quakertown, graduating in 2001.

In addition to the five boys, there are two girls in the mix: Katie, a sophomore and cheerleader at Wood, and Amanda, 11.

"It can be pretty crazy at home, but it's also a lot of fun," said Josh Messina, a second-year starter.

With Messina as a two-way fixture, the Vikings (11-2) will face District 2's Berwick (14-0) in a PIAA Class AAA state semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.

Messina, of Warminster, was part of the 2011 squad that earned statewide glory with a 52-0 pounding of District 3's Bishop McDevitt in the final. Last year, after reaching Hershey again, Wood bowed to District 10's Erie Cathedral Prep, 24-14.

"I've experienced both ends of it," Messina said. "We don't want things to finish the way they did last year. That's something that motivates us."

For the Vikings, Messina is a running option, receiving threat, and lead blocker for 1,200-yard rusher Jarrett McClenton and others.

"Josh is quick, runs low to the ground," Devlin said. "For a smaller guy, he runs real well inside the tackles."

Berwick has outscored opponents by 571-148. George Curry, in his 37th year in charge of the Dawgs, has a career record of 437-96-5.

Mike Carey, Wood's fourth-year defensive coordinator, "has shared a few things about them," Messina said. "It's easy to tell that he has a lot of respect for what they've done over the years."

In track and field, Messina concentrates on the 400-meter run. His best clocking is 51 seconds flat.

"I think it's the toughest race," the 17-year-old said. "It's basically a full-out sprint for a lap."

Also a top student, Messina carries a 3.9 grade point average in first-track classes. For football, he is hearing from schools in Division I-AA (Bucknell and Lehigh) and Division III (Lycoming, Moravian, Muhlenberg, and Salve Regina in Rhode Island).

Extra points. D'Andre Pollard broke Neshaminy's single-season rushing record of 2,585 yards, set in 2001 by Jamar Brittingham, in last week's 42-7 win over North Penn. The junior, who netted 235 yards against the Knights, has carried the ball 300 times for 2,798 yards and 38 scores.

Central Bucks East senior defensive end Mark Remmey registered 70 tackles, including nine sacks, in 10 games. The 6-4, 240-pounder made 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He is being recruited by Army, Lehigh, and Navy, among others.

Berwick lost 6-3, 215-pound senior defensive end Will Updegrove, a Temple recruit, to a shoulder injury early in the season.

Neshaminy and St. Joseph's Prep will clash in a Class AAAA state semifinal at 3 p.m. Saturday (the start time was pushed back because of SATs) at Northeast. The teams last met in 2006, with the Prep winning by 16-6 in Langhorne.


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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