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La Salle Is Taking Aim At Another State Title

Top 10

Week of Nov. 21, 2011

1. Archbishop Wood (Record: 11-1. Previous Week: 1. Weeks Rated: 13.)

2. La Salle (Record: 11-1. Previous Week: 2. Weeks Rated: 13.)

3. Council Rock South (Record: 11-1. Previous Week: 3. Weeks Rated: 13.)

4. North Penn (Record: 10-2. Previous Week: NR. Weeks Rated: 2.)

5. Garnet Valley (Record: 11-1. Previous Week: 5. Weeks Rated: 4.)

6. Malvern Prep (Record: 9-1. Previous Week: 6. Weeks Rated: 11.)

7. Pennsbury (Record: 9-3. Previous Week: 8. Weeks Rated: 2.)

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 that time of year again and La Salle High School is right back where it always seems to be—in contention for the PIAA Class AAAA state championship. For the third-straight year, the Explorers won the Catholic League Class AAAA championship. Then they followed that by winning their third-straight District 12 (city championship) title by pummeling George Washington, 41-7, last Saturday.

La Salle now is forced to play the waiting game—awaiting the District 11 Easton-Nazareth winner this weekend. If the Explorers climb that hurdle again, it's a date with the District 1 Class AAAA champion, between this weekend's semifinalists Council Rock South, North Penn, Garnet Valley and Pennsbury.

It's very simple to find the core of La Salle's consistent success. It all starts with the head man, Explorers' coach Drew Gordon. He's demanding, precise and gears his team up each week to play almost error-free football. If there is one area of consistency, that's it. La Salle rarely makes a mistake, and is the kind of team that will make opponents pay when they do.

Take the Explorers' District 12 championship game against George Washington. La Salle was up 14-0 before the Eagles ran off an offensive play. After rolling through the Washington defense on its first possession that resulted in the first of Tim Wade's three touchdowns, La Salle got the ball right back on the ensuing kickoff when Washington fumbled it away. That's when Wade added his second touchdown.

The western part of the state is filled with physical teams, like defending PIAA Class AAAA state champion North Allegheny, which beat La Salle 21-0 in last year's state final, holding the Explorers to 77 yards rushing and 192 yards of total offense.

It was a rare game in which the Explorers made rare mistakes, turning the ball over five times, with three interceptions and two fumbles.

"Believe me, that state title game still sticks with a lot of the seniors that played in it last year," La Salle quarterback Matt Magarity said earlier this season. "It's been the focus and commitment of everyone on this team to get back there again. I know it's early, but we have a lot of experienced guys, and I think it bothers a lot of them that who we really are didn't come out in that game. We're better than that."

Game of the Week

Pennsbury (9-3) at North Penn (10-2), in the District 1 Class AAAA semifinals on Friday 7 p.m.

Expect a physical game from two large, powerful teams. Pennsbury has a force up front in senior center J.J. Denman, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Wisconsin commitment and North Penn is, well, North Penn. Knights' coach Dick Beck has quietly brought this team along this season, winning nine-straight games after North Penn lost two of its first three, including a highly uncharacteristic 51-33 shootout loss to St. Joseph's Prep back on September 17. Since then, the Knights haven't surrendered more than 21 points in a game. North Penn senior linebacker Ralph Reeves is one of the best players in the state.

Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito

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