By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
Kennedy Catholic High football team’s 41-0 District 10 Region 1-A rout of Farrell Friday night at Anthony J. Paulekas Stadium served as a milestone — for the Golden Eagles’ program and the PIAA.
Unfortunately for Farrell, it also served as the end of an era.
Lee Plotts’ 24-carry, 175-yard, 4-touchdown rushing performance was complemented by Ross Gargano’s 12-attempt, 120-yard, 1-TD effort as the Golden Eagles gained 363 total yards.
The senior tandem established what is believed to be a first in Pennsylvania prep gridiron annals as both surpassed the career 4,000-yard rushing mark, becoming the first backfield to do so not only in the same season, but simultaneously.
According to available Herald records Plotts and Gargano have gained 4,168 and 4,111 yards, respectively. Plotts has posted 1,788 yards on 204 totes (8.7 yards/carry) with 21 TDs thus far this season, while Gargano has garnered 874 on 125 attempts (6.9) with 10 touchdowns despite missing 2 games due to a strained hamstring.
Following Farrell’s worst football season in a generation, 27-year Steelers’ skipper Lou Falconi announced his resignation (see sports editor Lynn Saternow’s story). Farrell finished 1-9 overall and 1-7 in D-10 1-A play, while Falconi forged a 210-91-6 ledger.
“I’m going to run out of here in about five minutes. I’m done. It’s all over,” Falconi summarized.
Kennedy collected a pair of first-quarter TDs on Plotts’ 6- and 3-yard runs, then doubled its bulge by the break on Gargano’s 28-yard gallop and Marlon Davis’ 1-yard plunge. Plotts’ third-period 5- and 7-yard scores and the sixth of Danny D’Onofrio’s conversion kicks effectively concluded the contest by the quarter’s close.
Kennedy Catholic (6-2, 6-4) qualified for the playoffs for the second straight season and will have the opportunity to defend its District 10 title. However fourth-year KC head coach Mike Donato said his club had been in playoff mode the last two weeks.
“We knew last week (at Mercer) we had to win to have a chance to get in, and we also knew (Friday) night we had to win; we didn’t want to leave it in anybody else’s hands,” Donato related. “We wanted to go out and earn our way in ... ”
Donato awarded game balls to Plotts and Gargano, but noted it was the entire 2006 team’s accomplishment, as well as “all the kids who’ve been here the last four years share in it,” Donato reflected.
Plotts and Gargano echoed that sentiment.
“Our offensive line has to be thanked, the wide receivers blocked a lot, too, and the coaches are calling the plays, and Lee — I feed off of him and he feeds off of me,” Gargano offered.
“We always try to do what we can, and if we know we can’t get it done, we always depend on our line and our other teammates,” Plotts added.
“Coach Donato) calls us ‘Salt ’n pepper,’ and you can’t have salt without pepper,” Gargano quipped, adding more seriously, “I’m happy for (Plotts) every time he scores a touchdown and he’s happy for me.”
Regarding the playoffs, the prolific Plotts pronounced, “I think we’re ready to make a run, and my team’s behind me on that.”
Notes: Farrell finished with 102 total yards, led by Lamont Hailstock’s 15-carry, 51-yard rushing performance. ... Gargano pilfered a Kent Patton third-period pass and Jason Wolinsky recovered a Farrell fumble later in the same frame.
KENNEDY 13 14 13 0 41
FARRELL 0 0 0 0 0
KC — Plotts, 6 run (D’Onofrio kick)
KC — Plotts, 3 run (D’Onofrio kick)
KC — Gargano, 28 run (D’Onofrio kick)
KC — Davis, 1 run (D’Onofrio kick)
KC — Plotts, 5 run (kick failed)
KC — Plotts, 7 run (D’Onofrio kick)
18 First downs 4
341 Rushing yards 71
22 Passing yards 31
4-1-0 Att-comp-int 10-2-1
363 Total yards 102
1-1 Fumbles-lost 3-1
9-74 Penalties-yards lost 7-63
Rushing: KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Plotts 24-175, Gargano 12-120, O’Brien 4-20, Armstrong 3-16, Davis 3-8, Baker 1-3; FARRELL — Hailstock 15-51, Hoffman 2-14, Odem 6-11, Patton 1-(-5).
Passing: KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Gargano 4-1-0, 22; FARRELL — Patton 10-2-1, 31.
Receiving: KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Homer 1-22; FARRELL — Hartley 2-31.
By Ed Farrell