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Four Local Teams Looking To Advance To States

By Joseph Santoliquito

Top 10

Week of Dec. 5, 2011

1. Archbishop Wood (Record: 12-1. Previous Week: 1. Weeks Rated: 15.)

2. La Salle (Record: 12-1. Previous Week: 2. Weeks Rated: 15.)

3. North Penn (Record: 12-2. Previous Week: 4. Weeks Rated: 5.)

4. Council Rock South (Record: 12-2. Season over.)

5. Garnet Valley (Record: 11-2. Season over.)

6. Pennsbury (Record: 9-4. Season over.)

7. Malvern Prep (Record: 9-2. Season over.)

8. Neshaminy (Record: 8-4. Season over.)

9. Central Bucks South (Record: 8-4. Season over.)

10. Coatesville (Record: 9-3. Season over.)

Philadelphia (CBS)—It's the one game that's plagued Archbishop Wood since last year. The one game the Vikings players have waited for, hoped for, and now they're getting it. Tonight at 7 p.m. at Northeast High, Wood will be facing defending PIAA Class AAA state champion Allentown Central Catholic (ACC) for the second-straight year in the PIAA state semifinals.

The game gnaws at Wood because it was ACC and quarterback Brendan Nosovitch that ran all over Wood last year, 49-27, in the state semifinals on its way to the state championship. It's the game Wood was hoping for and now it's here.

Wood is 12-1 and owners of a 12-game winning streak and ACC is 9-5 after beginning the season 2-5 and a defense that couldn't stop anyone.

"It's our motivation, it's been our motivation all year to get back to that game and do our part to get there," said Wood tight end Colin Thompson, who's bound for Florida. "I still have nightmares about that game. We couldn't stop them. But the seniors on this team remember that game. It's something we can't forget."

In last year's state semifinal, Nosovitch, bound for South Carolina, was a one-man wrecking ball. He threw for 420 yards and ran for 182 yards for 602 yards of total offense. Through four playoff games this year, Allentown is averaging 55.2 points a game. The most points Wood has given up this year is 22, in its most recent victory over District 1 champion Pottsgrove.

This season, Nosovitch has completed 228 of 367 passes for 3,547 yards and 37 touchdowns. His favorite target is receiver Kevin Gulyas, who's caught 113 passes for 1,958 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Here's the twist—this game may not be that close. Wood is exceptionally larger and more athletic than ACC. The Vikings will count on Desmond and Brandon Peoples on the ground, and Wood's defense is far superior to ACC's, which has surrendered 63 and 62 points in defeats this season, and outlasted Valley View 61-54 in a playoff shootout to advance.

North Penn (12-2) vs. La Salle (12-1) at Northeast High School, 12-noon Saturday in Class AAAA state semifinals:

It's a game that for anyone who saw it or played in it last year will surely remember. There were seven lead changes in last year's La Salle 38-35 victory over North Penn in the PIAA Class AAAA state semifinal. North Penn has won 11-straight games, after beginning the season 1-2. The Explorers are looking for their third-straight state championship game berth and also carry an 11-game winning streak.

La Salle's record also includes a season-opening 44-27 victory over North Penn—the Explorers' third-straight victory over North Penn.

"I think we're a lot different team than we were in the beginning of the season," North Penn quarterback Corey Ernst said. "I think we had a few new guys and everyone was gelling together in the beginning. When we started 1-2, the seniors on this team weren't used to losing that bad. I think we worked harder. We talked about it as a team and decided we had to come together. It was a matter of everyone taking responsibilities for themselves. As a team, we're playing the best we have this season. The defense has been playing great. The seniors want to go further than what we did last year, which means beating La Salle."

West Catholic (10-3) vs. Lancaster Catholic (14-0), 12-noon Saturday at Coatesville High School in the Class AA state semifinals:

West Catholic, the defending Class AA state champion, is riding a 10-game winning streak and the looming possibility of playing the last game ever in school history if it loses. The Burrs are giving up 12.3 points a game during the playoffs and have had a much more competitive schedule than the undefeated Crusaders, who have rolled everyone they've faced this year.

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