By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T
On a miserable Saturday evening Sept. 26 at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School, St. Joseph’s Prep had just come back in dramatic fashion to topple La Salle in a highly anticipated regular season Catholic League Class AAAA clash.
While fans from both sides quickly left the stands after the game to head for dryer and warmer climates, more than a few forecasted the probability that the two juggernauts would meet again for the league crown.
This Friday night at 7 p.m. at Northeast High School, that prediction will be fulfilled.
In the semifinals Nov. 14, St. Joe’s took care of overmatched Roman Catholic 42-7, while La Salle stopped upset-minded Cardinal O’Hara 31-21.
“Even though there are chants and things, our schools have a lot of respect for each other,” said La Salle star receiver Sam Feleccia.
The Prep got to the final in style. Sophomore quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg’s two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter started the scoring. Before it was over, Mornhinweg had thrown two touchdown passes to Pete Hurley, running back Desmon Peoples had gained 143 yards on 12 carries, and Spencer Reid had contributed 75 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushes.
On defense, senior Kushmir Miller returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown to help offset a 70-yard fumble return by Roman’s Roemel Morrison.
“We did a nice job on both sides of the ball,” said Prep coach Gil Brooks.
The Hawks are ready for tougher competition when they face the Explorers.
Although the Explorers struggled at times during their semifinal match, they made key plays in the second half and successfully withstood a spirited fight from the Lions.
Senior Connor Hoffman’s clutch performance of five catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns could not have come at a better time. Hoffman’s first touchdown connection with quarterback Drew Loughery went for 19 yards early in the second quarter. Early in the third quarter, with La Salle leading 21-14, Loughery found a hole in the O’Hara defense and raced 74 yards to the end zone.
“That’s the kind of touchdown you love to score,” said Hoffman. “That was fun.”
Loughery added a one-yard touchdown run while teammate Jamal Abdur-Rahman amassed 142 yards and a touchdown on 29 bruising carries. Among the most underrated play of the game came off the foot of kicker Mike Bennett, whose 38-yard field goal increased La Salle’s lead to 10 in the fourth quarter and deflated any thoughts of a remarkable comeback.
Although the Lions stayed close behind Dan O’Hara’s two touchdown runs and a 28-yard TD reception from Ryan Laughlin to Corey Brown, the Explorers’ defense sealed the deal in the fourth quarter when Vinny Migliarese snared two interceptions.
Asked what fans should expect when the two teams face off tomorrow night, the majority of players offered a simple forecast: a game that has the potential of being an all-time classic.
Other big games this weekend:
Reigning D-12 AA titleholder and Catholic League champion West Catholic makes another run at a state title with a district matchup against Bok Nov. 21 at noon at Southern.
Catholic League AAA champion Archbishop Wood looks to defend its D-12 title when the Vikings face Simon Gratz in the district final at 4 p.m. Nov. 21 at Northeast High School.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.