In 4A, La Salle simply has District 11's number

Just as Mike Pettine's Bucks used to dominate District 11, La Salle has signaled the end for our top teams.

PHILADELPHIA — We've seen this kind of domination before from a high school football program south of the Lehigh Valley and north of Philadelphia.

In both 1991 and 1993 and again in three consecutive years from 1998 to 2000, Central Bucks West ended the season of the District 11 4A champ in the Eastern finals.

In the early 90s, Mike Pettine's big, bad Bucks beat Easton. In the later three-year run, West defeated Parkland in 1998 and Bethlehem Catholic in 1999 and 2000.

More than a decade later, La Salle College High School has become the new C.B. West in 4A.

They might as well change their nickname from Explorers to the Eliminators, because that's what they do to our district champs.

For the fourth year in a row, the District 11 4A champ lost to the Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, school, and after competitive games the last three years, Saturday's contest — which had a 28-7 final — really wasn't.

Against a Parkland team that seemed to have the size, speed and strength to match up with La Salle, the Explorers totally throttled a Trojans attack that was averaging more than 40 points per game and hadn't been held under four touchdowns all season.

The fact that La Salle won the game wasn't a shock. The fact that the Explorers made big plays in the passing game to senior wide receiver Sean Coleman wasn't a stunner either.

But what had the Parkland contingent in the stands at Charles Martin Stadium at Northeast High School confounded was that the Trojans offense was totally dominated for 31/2 quarters.

Don't be fooled by the 182 yards rushing on the stat sheet because all but about 40 of that came in the fourth quarter after the outcome was decided, including Jarel Elder's 74-yard scamper to the La Salle 5 on the final play of the game.

Parkland quarterback Tim Baranek was sacked 12 times and 16 Trojans offensive plays went for negative yardage. The first three, and seven of the Trojans first 11 possessions were three-and-outs.

"Our defense was sensational," Explorers coach Drew Gordon said.

Gordon was asked if even he was surprised by how well his team stopped Parkland's spread attack.

"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "Especially after seeing Parkland last week. I thought it would be a 30-20 game or something like that. Our defense was just tremendous."

Gordon admitted that it was a benefit to be healthy, and that some of his injured kids were "back at 100 percent." He could have added that his guys were "rested" as well.

In a scheduling quirk that should be rectified by the PIAA, La Salle came into Saturday's game having not played since Nov. 17.

While Parkland was engaged in that wild 49-41 offensive shootout against Delaware Valley, La Salle's staff was there watching the game because it was the only one they had to worry about last weekend.

The Trojans weren't making excuses. And when you get beat as soundly as they were, any excuses would fall on deaf ears anyway.

But La Salle is clearly a program that doesn't need any advantages and having last weekend off was definitely one.

Parkland coach Jim Morgans said his team wanted to throw the ball first to set up the run, but that was tough to do since Baranek was swarmed almost the second he got the ball.

"We wanted to throw on early downs to get our kids in space," Morgans said. "You can see what happens when you're trying to throw the ball in predictable situations."

Morgans lives in the weight room when he's not on the field and takes pride in his teams being physically strong. It wasn't so much that La Salle beat up the Trojans. The Explorers defense was simply too good.

"They're a little better than I thought they were," Morgans said.

Morgans' coaching career spans five decades and he has seen our area go through various cycles since the state playoffs began in 1988. His Central teams won two 3A state titles in the 1990s and he guided Parkland to the 4A finals in 2007 — part of a glorious four-year stretch where District 11 had teams in Hershey playing for 4A gold every December.

Right now, though, La Salle simply has our number.

"It comes down to their personnel," Morgans said. "They're just outstanding."

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