O'Sullivan Leads Upper Dublin Past Rivals Wissahickon in Season Opener

O'Sullivan Leads Upper Dublin Past Rivals Wissahickon in Season Opener

By: Zak Wolf  |  August 31, 2021

The reigning District 1 5A champions picked up where they left off last season, dominating their crosstown rivals Wissahickon 43-0 in the first game of the season.

After going 4-1 in the regular season last year, the Cardinals clinched the number one seed in the 5A playoffs, with their only loss coming against Souderton, who won the 6A championship. The Cardinals defeated West Chester Rustin in the championship 29-8 to capture their second district 1 title in three seasons, cementing themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Wissahickon is a team that knows all too well what Upper Dublin's capable of, only being separated by two miles. The Cardinals have had the Trojans number the past decade, winning their tenth straight game over their rivals. The past two seasons, the games were competitive between these two teams, with Upper Dublin winning 29-19 two years ago and squeaking out a 31-27 victory in last year's opening game. This game was anything but close. The Cardinals were aware of the Trojans eagerness to end the streak and knew they had to come out strong, unlike last year.

"If you can't get hyped for your crosstown rival Wissahickon, then I told the kids don't come out of the locker room, stay in there. We know their quarterback has a great arm and their running back has speed, and they have other skill people who can hurt you, so we knew we had to come out and not take them lightly," said Upper Dublin Head Coach Brett Stover.

The Cardinals were dominant on both sides of the ball, not letting the Trojans get into a rhythm on offense, while playing with good pace when they got the ball. After a fumble by Upper Dublin at the goal line on their opening possession, the Trojans were pinned deep, which led to a safety for the Cardinals. UD's defensive line was dominant all game long, getting into the backfield at will, taking shot after shot at quarterback Aidan Defeo, who was sacked a multitude of times. The Trojans were unable to get anything going, which led to a 20-0 second quarter by Upper Dublin, who was up comfortably 22-0 at half.

Upper Dublin Quarterback Colin O'Sullivan picked apart the Trojan defense in the second quarter. The Junior quarterback is primed for a big season after having a tough time getting adjusted last year. O'Sullivan played his freshman season at Hatboro Horsham before transferring to Upper Dublin, which was a huge adjustment in terms of expectations and work ethic. With a shortened offseason, no workouts or 7-on-7's, O'Sullivan only had ten practices under his belt before taking his first snap for the Cardinals.

"It's a completely different feeling this year. Last season there was nothing, it was just coming in and playing football. This year we have the chemistry, and you can see it out there on the field," O'Sullivan mentioned.

In April, O'Sullivan got to play with some high-level players at the Elite 11 camp, where he was able to compete and learn where he compares to some other guys that have a lot of colleges interested in them. This helped improve his feel for the game and unlike last season, O'Sullivan can adjust at the line of scrimmage and set up the right protections, so he has time to throw. "This year I can really talk to them up front and tell them what's going on and they just dominated in the run game and pass game," he explained.

O'Sullivan's newfound ability was on full display, Friday with his O-line providing him all day to throw at times. He was able to find guys in a variety of ways, including on the run, play action, and finding guys from the pocket. He finished 9-of-13 with 202 yards and 3 touchdowns. First, he connected with Noah Lee for a 41-yard pitch and catch, then he hit Griffin Pensabene for a jump ball in the end zone on a 29-yard touchdown right before the half. In the second half, he found Sophomore Khris Kholbrenner up the seam for a 38-yard score and after another touchdown drive to start the half, O'Sullivan's night was over.

"Colin now knows our entire offense, after a full offseason, so he's going to be a weapon going forward."

Over the past few years, Upper Dublin has made a name for themselves and as reigning District 1 5A champions, there's a lot of pressure on the team to have a successful season. "I know it's cliché, but we're taking it one week at a time. We're going to have our hands full this season with some of the teams we have to play," said Coach Stover. With opponents like North Penn, Souderton and Quakertown scheduled, the Cardinals should be well tested ahead of another possible playoff run.

Even with most starters returning on both sides of the ball, Upper Dublin lost three of its most important players from last year including Millersville player Micah Bootman, Jacob Rossman and John Kholbrenner. Despite them being gone, their impact is still felt through what they taught people like Colin O'Sullivan about leadership and always being willing to put the extra work in.

There's still a long way to go, but Upper Dublin looks like they'll be a tough team to beat this season and a forced to be reckoned with once again in District 1 5A.

The Cardinals will face Council Rock South in their second game. As for Wissahickon, they look to secure their first win when they travel to play Owen J. Roberts next week.