ADAMS TWP — Friday night yielded more than a rebound win for North Catholic's football team.
It worked on finding balance in more ways than one, according to North Catholic head coach Patrick O'Shea.
“Last week was the first regular-season game we lost in a long time,” O'Shea said. “There was a nice calmness before (Friday's) game, and then once the game started, you could tell they were ready to play football.”
North Catholic wasted little time asserting itself in a 49-7 win over conference opponent Mount Pleasant (1-5).
By halftime, the Trojans were already up 49-0 and had the mercy clock churning in the final two quarters.
O'Shea said the team showed they could refocus on offense.
Before last week's 27-0 loss to Derry, North Catholic was undefeated in regular-season play since week 3 of the 2017 campaign, when it lost to Central Valley, 52-28.
O'Shea said a lot of the time was spent preparing this week for a better performance on the ground to complement their passing.
The Trojans rushed for 222 yards and six touchdowns. Wide receiver Rashod Allen also had a 65-yard punt return for North Catholic after the Trojans forced the Vikings to a three-and-out on the opening drive of the game.
“Tonight, when we needed to pass, we could. The running game seemed a little sharper than it was last week,” O'Shea said. “That was part of our game plan was to show a little bit of our balance and make sure the kids believed in both the running and the passing game.”
Quarterback Zack Rocco accounted for four touchdowns, three on the ground and one passing.
O'Shea said Rocco kept the offense composed.
“He does a really nice job of just leading and keeping the offense focused,” O'Shea said. “Tonight it seemed to go well for us.”
O'Shea credited the line for winning their matchup Friday night, too.
“I think this is the time of the year where that commitment to the physicality, not that it's going to win you games alone,” he said, “but it's at least going to allow kids to realize that they have the physical prowess to take over the line of scrimmage.”
While the offense found its balance again, O'Shea said the defense showed consistency as well.
Aside from the first-half shutout, the Trojans recorded three sacks and forced four fumbles.
“I think that's the one constant we've had all year — our defense has played really good every week,” O'Shea said.
North Catholic allowed just over 30 yards of total offense before sending in their second unit in third quarter.
“The success of our defense so far this year, it falls on the kids of course, but a lot of it falls on the staff,” O'Shea said. “There's nothing that, when we come into a game, they haven't already seen or prepared for.”
O'Shea said the game showed an all-around improvement, but it wasn't perfect.
North Catholic committed five penalties for 45 yards, mostly on offense. There were also a few times when the ball slipped through the fingers of intended receivers and kick returners.
North Catholic recovered all of its near turnovers, and sometimes turned them into big yardage, but O'Shea said these problems are remnants of the lack of focus from their last loss.
“I think we're past the part of the season where you can say it might be emotions,” he said. “You're in the last five weeks of the season, that's stuff you have to eliminate.”
O'Shea said the team will return to working on that part of the game throughout the coming weeks just as they did last week.
“It was kind of a strange Saturday last week because we didn't play well Friday night, and it was a learning curve,” O'Shea said. “It was a very methodical week. The kids were very focused. We just kind of went about our business and kept everything in perspective.”
Mount Pleasant 0 0 7 0 — 7
North Catholic 21 28 0 0 — 49
NC — Rashod Allen punt return 65 (Max Kunzmann kick), 9:35
NC — Zack Rocco run 22 (Kunzmann kick), 7:08
NC — Rocco run 5 (Kunzmann kick), 3:03
NC — Nikhai Hill-Green run 45 (kick failed), 6:02
NC — Rocco pass 32 to Tyree Brown (Rocco run), 4:15
NC — Rocco run 10 (Kunzmann kick), 3:03
NC — Cameron Branch run 5 (Kunzmann kick), 2:05
MP — Pete Billey run 3 (Bradley Tait kick), 4:05
Rushing:Mount Pleasant, Jacob Johnson 8-38, Alex Kadylak 4-36, Pete Billey 7-5, Luke Pieszak 4-(-36) North Catholic, Zack Rocco 4-60, Cameron Branch 7-52, Nikhai Hill-Green 1-45, Joey Prentice 5-36, Matt Miller 4-12, Rashod Allen 2-12, Nick Maher 1-5
Receiving:Mount Pleasant, Johnson 1-58, Jake Fazekas 2-18 North Catholic, Tyree Brown 2-60, Robbie Kress 1-54, Maher 1-3
Passing:Mount Pleasant, Pieszak 3-8-76-0, Johnson 0-1-0-0 North Catholic, Rocco 3-4-63-0, Prentice 1-8-54-0.