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Buccaneers Sports

Inspired Wasch, Interboro leave PC in knots

Varsity vs William Penn Charter School on 9/17/2011 12:00:00 PM
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 by Dennis Deitch

PHILADELPHIA --- Jeff Wasch had made his way through the handshake line and listened to his coach make his victory speech to the Interboro football team after its 27-19 win over Penn Charter Saturday afternoon when he dropped to his hands and knees, coughing and heaving, his mop of hair saturated with sweat.

The senior lineman had spent the entire game on the field, pressed into two-way duty when Sean Philips’ hopes for returning from illness had to be delayed a week.

It was an exhausting assignment for the 5-11, 195-pounder, who was giving up pounds to most of the Quakers’ linemen, one of whom was Mike McGlinchey, a 6-8, 285-pound behemoth who is one of the top junior lineman recruits in the country.

It amounted to a trying yet rewarding afternoon of football for Wasch. However, it wasn’t the sweat, dirt and hacking that told the most profound story of struggle for Wasch.

The pink laces on his cleats did that.

“My mom has breast cancer,” Wasch said. “I tried to buy a bunch of pink shoelaces, but I don’t have the money to buy the whole team laces.”

His mother, Noreen, has surgery scheduled for later this month. That Wasch not only functions on a football field but goes beyond the usual call of duty for the Bucs like he did Saturday is admirable, if not amazing.

“He did a good job for what he had to do out there,” Interboro defensive coordinator Mike D’Esposito said. “I don’t think he thought he’d have to play both ways. I think he figured Philips would be ready.

“(Penn Charter) has some big kids up there,” D’Esposito added. “It’s probably tough on him. You have to give him a lot of credit for being able to do that. You try not to dwell on it with him ... playing sports is a good outlet for a lot of things.”

“It gets my mind off things,” said Wasch, who had five tackles as Interboro forced five turnovers on defense. “I have to keep it separated, but at the same time I want to support her.”

It was important for Wasch and the rest of the Interboro front seven to slow down Penn Charter’s running game enough to force it into passing downs. Although the Quakers had 228 rushing yards (143 by bruising junior Eric Neefe), the Bucs were able to tighten things up after Penn Charter took a 13-7 lead in the first quarter.

The result was three interceptions, including two by cornerback Ryan Tambon, who returned the second 45 yards for a touchdown with 7:48 remaining in the fourth quarter to put Interboro on top, 27-13.

While this year’s Bucs squad might not have the speed it has in recent years, Tambon and Shawn Frampton are top-notch defensive backs.

“We had to buckle down, tighten things up and hit them,” Tambon said of the adjustments after Penn Charter scored on two of its first three possessions. “We wanted them to throw the ball because we can cover them ... Let them see if they can get past us.”

Tambon and Frampton (who iced the game with an interception in the end zone with 58 seconds remaining) not only teamed up as smothering defensive backs, they also joined forces to get Interboro a tying touchdown before halftime.

On a second-and-10 at the Quakers’ 17, Frampton took a handoff from flanker going to his left, then the southpaw pulled up and found Tambon behind the defense for the score.

It was a well-earned win for Interboro, which was without leading rusher Tyler McLaughlin and leaned on the defense to make the big plays.

As for Wasch, he’ll lean on his family — at home and on the gridiron — to make it through the challenges away from the field.

“I got upset about it,” Wasch said of his reaction when his mother told him of the cancer’s recurrence, “and then she said she wanted me to keep playing.”

Play he did. For 48 minutes, until it brought him to his knees.

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