Central Bucks South came up big in its season-opener against Council Rock South on Friday night. Jon Pileggi, Josh Adams & Tyler Paradysz were just three of the players who came up big.
By Mary Jane Souder
On his team’s first play from scrimmage in Friday night’s season opener against Council Rock South, Josh Adams hauled in a John Pileggi pass and turned it into a 19-yard gain. Four plays later, the Central Bucks South sophomore broke through the Golden Hawks’ defense for a 26-yard run.
The tone had been set.
Fans who didn’t know Adams before Friday night got to know him in hurry in his varsity debut at Walt Snyder Stadium. By the time the night had ended, Adams had accumulated 204 yards on 22 carries with four touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 13 yards in the Titans’ stunning 42-7 win over the Golden Hawks.
“The expectation for the team was to play well, and we did that out there,” Adams said. “It was a hard game, but as a team, we performed our assignments and played well.”
Adams’ stellar performance went a long way toward alleviating concerns about who would fill the sizable shoes left with the graduation of running back Dan Brown.
“We knew the kid was a special athlete, but special athletes aren’t always special football players,” coach Dave Rackovan said of Adams. “He stepped up tonight.”
Adams was quick to deflect credit for his standout effort.
“My offensive line did a great job, and I did my best to try and read it,” the sophomore running back said. “It was all them opening holes. I give them credit for their performance.”
On a night that featured plenty of new faces on both sidelines, it was the Titans’ rookies who had the upper hand.
“We have a bunch of young kids running around out there, but they believe in what we’re doing,” Rackovan said. “Obviously, we have playmakers, and we made plays when we had to.”
Did they ever.
The Titans got the job done on both sides of the football, and while the 465 net yards they amassed on offense was impressive, equally impressive was the performance of a Titan defense that limited the Golden Hawks to just 228 yards of total offense.
“We played extremely well on defense, and we were physical on defense,” Rackovan said. “That was the biggest difference in the football game. In previous years, we couldn’t stop them.”
The Titans’ defensive woes in years past was underscored by the fact that the Golden Hawks outscored the Titans 108-41 over the past three meetings, winning all three games by 20-plus points.
“This is redemption for last year,” said senior Tyler Paradysz, who helped anchor a standout defensive line. “We didn’t come out real good last year. We were waiting for a chance to come at them at the end of the season (in districts), but we lost to Garnet Valley.
“We got redemption for all our seniors. It turned out really good.”
In Friday’s opener, the Golden Hawks’ vaunted ground game netted just 185 yards, and after allowing the Golden Hawks to march 79 yards for a TD on their opening possession, the Titans’ defense was all but impenetrable, delivering a huge stop on fourth-and-one late in the first half.
“We went with a 50 defense to stop the run,” Paradysz said. “Everyone had their assignments, and we all stuck to our assignments.
“When everyone sticks to their assignments, that’s what happens – you make stops.”
Those stops allowed the Titans’ offense to work its magic, and although Adams stole the spotlight, senior quarterback John Pileggi had himself quite a debut as well, completing 13-of-15 passes for 139 yards and one touchdown.
“The expectation level coming in to fill the shoes of Matt Johns is unbelievable,” Rackovan said of his former QB who is playing football at the University of Virginia. “The thing about Jon is he doesn’t let anything bother him.
“I think at times he needs to understand more what his weaknesses are, but his strength is that he will do exactly what we ask him to do. Against a team like this, you can’t ask for a better deal.”
If Pileggi felt pressure, he certainly didn’t let it show, calmly completing one pass after another.
“We started out the year with three different quarterbacks battling for the job, and I think it made all three of us better,” he said. “Any one of us could have stepped in. We have great coaching, and we have never been more prepared for a game than we were for this game.”
That preparation paid big dividends on Friday night, and although one game does not a season make, it was quite a beginning for a team that lost three of the league’s top skills players in Johns, Brown and wide receiver Chris Veal. All three are playing football at the Division 1 level.
“We were confident in what we had,” Paradysz said. “We were rebuilding, but Josh stepped up, Pileggi stepped up, and our line is really looking good together.
“It was a good team effort. When we work as a team and keep the pace fast, we’ll put the points up like we did.”
“I think we sent out a message that we’re back again,” Pileggi added. “I think we’re going to step up and do some things.”
In a deserted locker room after Friday night’s game, Rackovan issued a cautionary word.
“That could have been such a different game,” the Titans’ coach said. “It’s not like we’re that much better than Council Rock South. That’s not how the game is - games get away from you.
“I know I’ve been involved on the other end of these. Tonight we executed.”
And that made all the difference in the world.