Academy Park ready to play underdog at Cheltenham

Posted on November 22, 2019 in Newspaper.

Academy Park lineman Xavier Newman, seen last week against West Chester Rustin, is part of a daunting unit in the trenches that he hopes will lead the Knights to victory in Friday’s District 1 Class 5A final at Cheltenham. MIKEY REEVES — FOR MEDIA NEWS GROUP

By Matt Smith

Barry Brown and Xavier Newman have vivid memories of standing on the sideline at Springfield High School three years ago.

Two of Academy Park’s best senior players were baby-faced freshmen in 2016. They didn’t see a lick of varsity time, but the excitement of being part of a District 1 championship squad was an experience they have cherished.

“Aw man, I remember that feeling on that bus ride back,” said Brown, the quarterback, who has passed and run for more than 1,000 yards this season. “I didn’t even play, but I felt like I got in the game that night.”

“It was crazy,” Newman said. “We had fire trucks following us around on the way back home, like it was a whole parade.”

Academy Park defeated top-seeded and Central League champion Springfield, 24-18, in the District 1 Class 5A final that night in the first season of the PIAA’s six-classification system. In 2015, the Knights had claimed their second 3A title in three years.

That 2016 team boasted several All-Delco selections including Teddy Wright, the Daily Times Player of the Year. The 2019 team now has the chance to write its happy ending.

“We want to hold that trophy,” Newman said. “We’ve been working all throughout high school to get to this game and to win it.”

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