North Catholic takes down Burrell for 1st win of the season

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 10:35 PM

Although he lost his leading rusher and receiver from last year, North Catholic coach Pat O’Shea was confident in his team’s abilities heading into its season opener against Burrell on Friday night at J.C Stone Field in North Park.

It didn’t take long to realize why he was so confident as the Trojans took a 28-0 first-quarter lead over the Bucs on the way to a 54-6 Big East Conference victory.

Senior running back Eamon Straub paced the Trojans on the ground, rushing for 172 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Senior quarterback Zack Rocco, who only played partway into the second quarter, completed 6 of his 7 pass attempts for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

“It boiled down to the kids tonight. They’ve worked so hard all offseason, in the weight room and in practice, and I thought physically we were real strong tonight,” O’Shea said. “I thought overall we played very well tonight.”

North Catholic (1-0) scored on its first four offensive drives as Rocco methodically marched his team down the field. The ground attack of Straub and Anthony Serventi picked up large chunks of yards behind a physically superior offensive line, and Rocco made short and efficient passes when he needed to.

On the first two drives, the running game found the end zone. Rocco scored on a 10-yard quarterback scramble, and Serventi scampered in from 5 yards three minutes later.

“We played really well,” Rocco said. “Our running backs ran really well, and our line is just unstoppable. You can’t stop our running game. Our line is just big and physical.”

The Trojans pushed the score to 28-0 when Rocco launched a pass down the sideline to wide receiver Nick Maher. The junior reeled the ball in, broke a tackle and turned the pass into a 78-yard touchdown.

The offense was efficient throughout the first half, and the North Catholic defense didn’t give it a chance to rest. The Trojans picked off Burrell quarterback Alex Arledge three times throughout the first half and added a fourth on the second play of the second half.

Isaiah Jackson picked off two of Arledge’s first seven passes. Heading into the game, O’Shea said his defense had heard the hype surrounding Burrell’s fast-paced offense.

“They played well tonight, and they had heard all week long about the no-huddle, no mercy, new quarterback, and some other things,” O’Shea said. “I think they took that to be a challenge, and they performed really, really well.”

Burrell (1-1) never seemed in sync. From errant throws to dropped passes, the Bucs never got into a rhythm. But Burrell held the Trojans offense to just a touchdown in the second quarter, and Arledge capped a 13-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown strike to Seth Fischbach to close the first half.

“We got in a big hole quick in the first quarter,” Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said. “But I thought we battled and played them even in the second quarter. So, we’ll rebound, we’ll get better and we’ll move on.”

The Bucs will have the opportunity to bounce back next week at home when they host No. 3-ranked Elizabeth Forward, which handed Deer Lakes its second loss of the season Friday night 15-7.

North Catholic will be on the road as it travels to Freeport for another Big East Conference matchup. Freeport fell to No. 5-ranked Derry, 35-27, in its Week 1 matchup.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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