Trojans finish storybook season
Resiliency is a word that has highlighted much of the 2015 season for the Parkland football team.
Heading into the year, the Trojans were favorites to run through the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11.
And they did just that.
But the script wasn’t always so easily written.
Parkland finished the year 14-2, and was four points away from winning its first PIAA Class AAAA state championship since 2002 when it beat Woodland Hills 34-12.
After taking down Dieruff and Northampton in the first two weeks by a combined score of 86-13, the Trojans were tested against a middle of the pack Allentown Central Catholic team, prevailing 28-14.
With back-to-back wins against Pocono Mountain West and Whitehall the following two weeks, Parkland was rolling along at 5-0.
Then came a surprising loss at Liberty, one which the defense gave up a large chunk of yards and big plays in allowing a season-high 41 points. Parkland found out that it wasn’t invincible.
The Trojans bounced back to win nine in a row, including signature wins such as beating Easton twice and knocking off Wyoming Valley West for the subregional title.
The season’s biggest wins came against LaSalle College in the PIAA quarterfinals and then Upper Dublin to reach the state final for the first time since 2007.
“Throughout the entire season we had our parents and fans by our side, the whole Parkland community, we knew it could be a special year,” said senior running back/linebacker Erik DiGirolamo. “Even after the Liberty loss, people stayed with us and kept us motivated. We never gave up.”
It started during the fall preseason camp, but it was especially noted after the early October loss to the Hurricanes, that this team was close, and the seniors were a special group leading the way.
With upperclassmen at all or most of the positions on the field, this was an experienced group that didn’t want to stop playing together until the very last game.
“We did whatever we could each week to keep this season going,” noted DiGirolamo. “We formed a brotherhood throughout the entire season that I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of before. I think every senior really stepped up into a leadership role and did what we had to do to get to this point.”
Trailing 21-0 late in the third quarter last Saturday night against Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Parkland did not quit. The Trojans showed their resiliency, and each teammate wanted a chance to win one last game together.
“We talked with coach [Jim] Morgans and coach [Tim] Monceman about not giving up and going out with pride for each other,” DiGirolamo said. “We had that winning attitude that we had all season, and we played hard for the final 10-or-so minutes.”
That family aspect of the football program carries on even after the playing days are over. Alumni and former players, most notably from the 2007 state finalist team, showed their pride to the team the week leading up to the game.
“Some of the older guys came by practice and just told us they wanted us to win and show out for Parkland,” DiGirolamo said. “They were behind us the whole way and wanted us to finish what they couldn’t. We were really appreciative of what they had to say.”
This senior class can hang their heads high. Four straight District 11 Class AAAA titles, and a state championship appearance, this group left its legacy on the program in a big way.