**Note: This article originally published on PaPrepLive.com**
WARMINSTER >> Just eight days after the Archbishop Wood football team beat La Salle for the first time in 13 tries on a last-second field goal, it could be understandable to have an emotional let down.
Understandable to anyone but head coach Steve Devlin that is.
“We try not to let (a letdown) happen,” Devlin said. “We had a tough week at practice and we were on the kids a little bit. I think they’re mature enough and they know enough that our goal wasn’t to (just) beat LaSalle at the start of the season. We got a tough Catholic League…we’ve put a lot of emphasis on this.”
Raheem Blackshear made sure the Vikings wouldn’t start slow when he returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. It was all Archbishop Wood from there on out, as they defeated Cardinal O’Hara 50-7 in Philadelphia Catholic League Play Sunday afternoon.
“Its always a good start to jump on teams,” Devlin said. “Obviously scoring before your offense gets on the field is a good thing.”
“We work on special teams every day,” Blackshear added. “Coach definitely takes it very seriously and we take it very seriously too.”
One of the offensive standouts for Wood (7-0, 2-0 PCL Class AAA) on the day was Jordan Johnson, who was simply faster than Cardinal O’Hara could handle. The speedy senior was zipping all over the field to the tune of 90 total yards (77 receiving on eight catches) and two touchdowns.
Despite scoring 21 points in the first quarter it actually took the Wood offense almost four minutes to run a play. After Blackshear’s return and a three-and-out by the defense, Bobby Heck took the ensuing punt 59 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-0 two minutes and seven seconds into the game.
“We spend a lot of time on special teams so we take pride in that,” Devlin said. “I’m glad it pays off.”
Once the offense had their chance they had no problem warming up either, despite the biting mid-October breeze. Using a hurry-up style, the Vikings went up and down the field with ease.
The first touchdown came at the end of a nine-play, 75-yard drive when quarterback Anthony Russo found Johnson for 18 yards. Russo was 5-of-6 on the offense’s first drive.
The 6’4” quarterback, whose day ended in the first half, ended up going 14-17 for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
The only thing that ended up stopping Wood drives in the first half were a pair of Russo interceptions.
“We gotta sure that stuff up,” Devlin said. “A couple of them were my fault, bad calls…we gotta get better and we’ll learn from it. A great teaching tool is being able to correct mistakes after a win.”
Something to sure up, but also something ended up being inconsequential on this day.
Blackshear struck again with a big play for Wood’s fourth touchdown, when he took a wildcat snap and went 56 yards for a touchdown. Blackshear ended the day with three carries for 55 yards, two catches for 18 yards, and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one return).
“It’s a big performance, me stepping up for one of my players Mark Webb, and following behind Jarrett (McClenton’s) footsteps. Hopefully I have a big season.”
After a back-and-forth that saw interceptions for O’Hara by Kyle Godsey and Myles Henderson and a pick by Joe Davis for Wood, the Vikings got good field position at the Lion 30 yard line with 1:15 left in the half. From there Johnson took an end-around and caught three passes from Russo to gain all 30 yards and give Wood a 35-0 lead at halftime.
The only real difference between the first and second halves were the names of the players and the running clock – the Wood dominance was still evident.
After O’Hara went three-and-out to start the half a snap sailed over the punter’s head for a safety to give Wood a 37-0 lead. Blackshear returned the ensuing free kick all the way back to the Lion 1 yard line and scored one play later. Dan Zanine’s sixth extra point of the day made the score 44-0.
Standing out defensively in the second half for the Vikings was Billy Shaeffer, who recovered two fumbles.
Wood’s scoring closed with a 1-yard Qualik Davis run late in the fourth quarter.
Cardinal O’Hara (1-6, 0-2) scored on what ended up being the final play of the game, after they took a kickoff down to Wood’s 1-yard line. Running back Taseer Jones punched it in from there.
Despite their 7-0 start, Archbishop Wood obviously has bigger goals. Blackshear and his teammates are pretty clear on those.
“We can accomplish a lot more,” he said. “Hopefully a three-peat at states, taking it one game at a time.”