There’s nothing easy about State College’s next extended bus ride.
The Little Lions gather at 7:15 a.m. today to begin a trek to Philadelphia for their matinee against Father Judge. Kickoff is 2 p.m. at Lincoln High School in the city’s northeast section.
The game marks State College’s first ever road contest against a Philadelphia Catholic League opponent.
“We’ve done these trips before and won,” State College coach Al Wolski said. “We’ve done this trip and lost. It’s part of being in central Pennsylvania. We’ve been to inner-city Pittsburgh and inner-city Erie. We might as well take a team to inner-city Philadelphia.”
The game represents a partial homecoming for Wolski, who graduated from District 1 Phoenixville High School and started three years at West Chester University. But Wolski’s focus rarely wavers, which means today is about prolonging early-season momentum.
The Little Lions are 2-0 for the first time since 2009. A victory over Father Judge (1-1) would send the program to its first 3-0 start since finishing the 2008 regular season undefeated.
Wolski said the fast started hasn’t altered his current team’s approach.
“We haven’t noticed any difference in them,” he said. “When they have a bad practice, we tell them they aren’t practicing like a 2-0 team. We are undefeated so far and we bring that up to try to motivate them in practice.”
State College has encountered little resistance through two weeks, outscoring Bethlehem Liberty and Central Mountain by a combined 62-14. Distributing carries among quarterback Patrick Irwin, fullback Ryan Goeke and running backs Andrew Kelly and Ebrahim Britton has helped State College average 259.5 rushing yards per game. An emerging defensive interior is limiting opponents to 68 rushing yards per game.
Outmuscling the Crusaders might be tougher. Father Judge rushed for more than 300 yards in last week’s 34-14 victory over Council Rock South. State College and Father Judge met last year at Memorial Field, with the Crusaders scoring 20 second-half points to earn a 34-24 victory.
Father Judge coach Tom Coyle said this year’s team has a different look after losing 24 seniors because of graduation. Key offensive players include quarterback Ryan Mackiewicz, running back Samir Bullock, tight end Albi Arabaj and 6-foot-4, 285-pound senior center Vince LoStracco. Bullock rushed for 238 yards on 18 carries last week.
The Crusaders opened with a 20-6 loss to Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.) in a game played as part of a football showcase in Dublin, Ireland.
Coyle, who serves as the school’s director admissions, considers today a marquee game for his program.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy