Archbishop Carroll football has always had pride in its history of winning. It has never lost that part of the program. But back in 2008, the Patriots fell into a slump of losing seasons that continues today.
Dan Bielli retired after the 2010 season, He had won the Catholic League Championship three consecutive seasons from 2000-1002.
Since then, Carroll has had three head coaches: Joe Powel (six seasons), Dan Connor (two seasons) and most recently Kyle Detweiler, who took over the head coaching reigns the winter before the 2018 season.
In his first year, Detweiler's team produced five wins, more than any coach since Bielli left the sideline.
That elusive winning season may be over this fall.
One reason of hope the Patriots can look toward is the play of senior Richie Kimmel, a linebacker by trade who also plays offense at the fullback position.
His all-star performance helped Carroll surge last season. Kimmel lists his defensive stats from 2018 as 166 total tackles (83 solo 83 assisted), two interceptions, three forced fumbles (one recovered for TD) and 18 tackles for loss.
Kimmel said his No. 1 goal is to end the 11-year losing streak and leave the program headed in the right direction.
“It's motivation for us,” Kimmel said in a recent interview at the Carroll campus. “Last year was the first year we were in the playoffs in like a decade. This year we're trying to go back, have a winning record...it's been over a decade since we had a winning record. This year we want to make to the District 12 championship and on the PIAA playoffs.”
Kimmel said the defense will play a big role in Carroll's fortunes this fall, a season that opens with non-league games against tough programs as Haverford, Seton Hall Prep and the Haverford School.
“Our one big strength, we added two new linebackers (Matteo Santoleri and Tyler Alston, both seniors) and we changed our whole defense from a 4-2-5 and went to a 3-3-5. We'll be able to cover the run and pass better.”
Kimmel says the most important element for winning this year isn't in the film room or on the chalk board. It is about what happens from the neck up.
“I think it's probably just we've got to stay focused and not quit on each other,” Kimmel said. “We've got new guys coming in, we're starting to know who they are, making stronger bonds and trusting each other.”
Detweiler said Kimmel is the right guy to lead the Patriots this fall.
“He's the kind of kid we want to represent our program and lead the way,” the second-year coach said in a recent interview with Footballstories. “Strong in the classroom and strong on the field. He's going to lead a linebacking corps that we're really excited about.”
Detweiler talked about other key players returning who, like Kimmel, were honored by various all star teams after last season.
“We have three returning All-Catholic guys,”Detweiler said. “Defensively Richie is coming back, he's a guy with a ton of Patriot League and Ivy League interest and that's really important for us because, with a kid like that, he's got a 3.9 GPA and a 1200 SAT score...and Oh by the way...can tackle just about anything.”
Detweiler singled out quarterback Russell Minor-Shaw, an all Catholic who is coming back as well. Minor-Shaw was a fullback that Detweiler converted to quarterback last year.
Detweiler says the switch was a winner. “Russ set a passing record for touchdown passes in a season,” he said. “We're really happy how that turned out.”
The coach also brought up All Catholic kicker-punter kicker Jules Mastrocola as an asset for the Patriots. “His kicking down the stretch was very important, he really helped us,” Detweiler said. “He can really punt.”
Kimmel said he has offers on the table from Penn, Columbia and Yale. The 6-foot-2, 230 pounder says he has interest from Syracuse, Holy Cross and Delaware but no offers yet.
“I'm still hoping to go D-1,” Kimmel said. “I want to see who else comes in. I want to go to a big D-1 school like Syracuse.”
Like Kimmel, The Patriots are thinking big for this fall.
CARROLL UPGRADING FOOTBALL FACILITIES
A few years ago, the Patriots turned their practice field into a bonafide high school football stadium. Years before that, Carroll dedicated a vastly upgraded weight room to the memory of Dominic D'Alicandro.
D'Alicandro, a 2002 Carroll graduate, was an All-Catholic center and helped the Patriots to a pair of Catholic League championships. He died in 2006 following a motorcycle accident.
Detweiler is expanding the D'Alicandro weight room into a football-only section of the school by adding a locker room that is just for the football team. Funding for the locker room is mostly coming from alumni donations.
Before taking he Carroll head coaching job, Detweiler served as the assistant varsity football coach and defensive coordinator at Central Bucks High School South in Warrington. He is a 2006 graduate of Souderton Area High School and was a football student-athlete at Muhlenberg College.
“The Philadelphia Catholic League is so competitive across the board, across our Blue Division,” Detweiler said. “We do things we think that will set us apart, and really entice players and families to want to consider us. If we put our facilities at the top of the list, it's just going to be something else that helps us with future classes and future prospects. We're really excited about this program to build our own locker room.”
Detweiler says he wants Carroll football to not just be a program by name, but have the facilities to reflect the tradition a five-time Catholic League champion should have.
“There's going to be tremendous space, not only for the kids, but for meeting rooms, film sessions plus offices for prospective students to visit and take a look at our facilities, plaques and awards programs,” the coach said. “It's been an 'all hands on deck' project that is going to take us through the rest of the summer. It's really going to be tremendous when it's done. We're shooting for this fall and we're really excited about it.”
Detweiler said the vibe of weight room really set the tone.
“We feel really good about our weight room,” Detweiler said. “The D'Alicandro family, making the weight room dedicated to Dominic, in his memory, dedicating it to him. The pictures of him around there. The D'Alicandro family has just been awesome. We'll put our weight room up against a lot of our competition there. That's a great place for us to start.”
Detweiler says anyone wishing to donate to the construction of the Carroll football locker room can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Footballstories editor Al Thompson is a graduate of Archbishop Carroll (1970). He was an All Catholic soccer player for the Patriots and and served as strength and conditioning coach for the Carroll football team between 2001-07 helping the Patriots win two Catholic League Championships.
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii