WPIAL Class A semifinal capsule: Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth
class A SeMIFINALS
No. 1 Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (11-0) vs. No. 5 Avonworth (10-1) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mars Athletic Complex
No player on Avonworth knows the sensation of a win over Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic. All understand the experience of coming up a little short.
The Antelopes are tired of the close-but-not-quite narrative.
Avonworth, which has lost four straight in the series, wants to dethrone top-seeded Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion. The Trojans used a big third quarter to break a scoreless tie and secure a 28-0 win over the Antelopes in Week 7.
Before that, five straight meetings between the teams were decided by single-digit margins. North Catholic trailed Avonworth in the fourth quarter of both games a season ago.
“We lacked some intensity, and that’s where we need to focus,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said of the Week 7 meeting. “You can’t play one half of football.
“They’ve had our number. … We’re looking to change things around this time.”
Avonworth found a way to thrive on offense this season without its top quarterback option, junior Zach Chandler, who has been out since Week 4 with an ankle injury. The ascension of senior Josh Drwal required a change in tactics. Chandler threw for 742 yards in three games, and Drwal passed for 480 in the eight games that followed. But the read-based offense remains the same.
“They’re pretty much following the same path that we followed last year,” North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said. “Their quarterback went down early in the season, and the young kid that’s playing quarterback now, he’s like our PJ (Fulmore). He does a little bit of everything.”
The Trojans needed a big game (30 carries for 149 yards, 3 TDs) from Fulmore, a senior running back, to erase an early deficit in their 20-6 win over South Side Beaver in the quarterfinals.
“We learned a lot from that game,” Ravenstahl said, “so I think our focus is where it should be this week.”