At the risk of going all Nat King Cole on you, it has truly been said many times, many ways on this site that we limit our coverage to the Delco contingent of the Central League. But it’s still worth pointing out that statistically, the most prolific quarterbacks in the Central League hail from two of its three non-Delco representatives. And seeing as they’ve put up those numbers against 17 Delco opponents combined, it’s worth at least a brief mention.
Harriton’s Pat Moriarty and Conestoga’s Joe Viviano are with little doubt two of the best – in my opinion, the two best – quarterbacks in the area. The seasons they are putting up, and as juniors to boot, are remarkable when viewed in context.
The offensive philosophy of football as a whole has shifted the way of the passing game at virtually every level. With the popularization and adaptation of schemes like the spread offense and the West Coast offense to all levels of the game, the ability to move the ball through the air has a renewed importance.
But – and I know there will be some out there who objects to this statement – prolific, even at times proficient, passing hasn’t manifested itself in Delaware County, per se.
Check the numbers:
– In the last decade, only four passers have topped 2,000 yards in a single season. Three of those quarterbacks hail from the same school, Ridley.
– Through Week 10, six teams have passed for more yards than they have run in 2011. If you take Ridley out of that mix, the other five teams – Archbishop Carroll, Chichester, Episcopal Academy, Penncrest and Sun Valley – have a combined eight wins. So much for air efficiency translating into wins.
– Of the 12 teams in Delco that use the passing game to account for more than a third of their yards – again through Week 10 – only four have winning records (Ridley, Haverford School, Monsignor Bonner, Springfield).
I know that the reasons for offensive balance are myriad, and teams can be unwillingly backed into offensive corners by a variety of factors that include defensive troubles, turnovers, weather conditions, and so on. But over a full season, we can safely say that those circumstances by and large even themselves out.
Back to the original point: The accomplishments of Moriarty and Viviano.
Statistically, this duo has put up numbers that, were they at Delco schools, we would be fawning all over them, and deservedly so.
Moriarty may be the more talented and polished of the two. He finished the season 125-236 passing with 1,889 yards, 20 touchdowns and a microscopic four interceptions. The yardage would be the 18th highest single-season total in Delco history. His 370-yard tour de force performance against Upper Darby in Week 4 – albeit aided by the absence of the Royals’ All-Delco cornerback Fred Thorpe – would be the eight-best single-game total in Delco history.
Oh yeah, and he did that while essentially missing two games due to injury. He didn’t play against Ridley in Week 8 and only managed a 1-for-7 performance in limited action while still a bit gimpy against Penncrest.
Meanwhile, Viviano has peaked late in the season with performances that must have Conestoga looking forward to next fall. His final numbers are gaudy: 145-276, 2,098 yards, 18 TDs, 12 INTs. The yardage would be the 11th best in Delco history.
But with Viviano, it’s the progress the 6-foot-5 junior has made that is most impressive. He shook early interception susceptibility, throwing seven in his first three games. His last three games, all wins as Conestoga looked to play itself into the playoffs, an endeavor that fell just a few points short, featured eight touchdown tosses against no interceptions and garnered two Central League Player of the Week honors. He had only one game all season without a touchdown score.
These numbers sizeably outpace the totals of Delco’s best. Both have at least a 500-yard leg up on Delco’s leader, Duffy Gilhool of Chichester (1,359 yards). Gilhool, the leader in touchdowns with 14, also trails considerably in that category.
If we try to standardize competition by looking for the Central League’s next-best, we arrive at Springfield’s Ryan Strain in terms of yardage (1,278) and Garnet Valley’s Ryan Corkery for touchdowns (11). That’s an impressive lead that Viviano and Moriarty enjoy over the pack.
And much to the dismay of defensive coordinators in the county, it’s likely they’ll only get better next season.