By Todd Orodenker
Special to The CS&T
It may be just one word, but its meaning is practically indefinable.
And come Saturday, La Salle College High School will have a chance to experience the indefinable.
The Explorers surged past Ridley High School 35-7 last Saturday in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals at Charles Martin Memorial Stadium at Northeast High School.
They advance to play State College High in the finals at Hersheypark Stadium at 7 p.m. Dec. 19.
“I’m just happy for the kids,” La Salle coach Drew Gordon said. “It’s all for those guys.”
The Explorers and Green Raiders were tied at the end of the first half, thanks to a late Ridley score. That’s when the Catholic League champions woke up.
“(Our first-half play was) somewhat frustrating because we had to capitalize and we didn’t,” senior quarterback Drew Loughery said. “Sitting there in the locker room at halftime, we just knew, if we played our game and stopped making the mistakes, we’d be fine.”
Boy was he right.
Two one-yard quarterback sneaks by Loughery, a one-yard touchdown run from junior running back Jamal Abdur-Rahman and the icing on the cake via sophomore running back Tim Wade’s nine-yard touchdown scamper gave the Explorers the answer they were looking for.
“We responded, we rose to the occasion in a very mature way,” Loughery said. “I’m proud of the guys.”
“The kids did a great job. This will sink in when I get a Diet Coke in me,” Gordon added. “Or a hamburger, or something.”
Loughery threw for 102 yards. Abdur-Rahman rushed for 120 yards. The defense forced five turnovers.
“The defense was outstanding last week and probably even better today,” Gordon said. “They just stayed with it.”
There was nothing but happy faces on the La Salle sideline. Nobody really knew what to say, what to feel. As the seconds were clicking down on the clock and the realization was beginning to set in, Loughery described what was going through his head.
“It’s finally here,” he said. “You think about all the hard work you put into this from offseason workouts, training camp, playing games throughout this whole year. We’re finally about to reach our ultimate goal.”
That’s a goal that some didn’t really think would be attainable.
The Explorers are the first Class AAAA representatives from District 12 and the first AAAA school from the Catholic League since it joined the PIAA last year to be playing in the state finals .
“A lot of people didn’t expect us to win. Various papers and what not picked us to lose; it means a lot to put our name out there,” Loughery said. “We feel we have one of the best leagues in the state.”
“Come play (St. Joe’s) Prep and (Cardinal) O’Hara. See how you like it,” Gordon added in defense of the Catholic League’s talent.
Still, the Explorers know that they’re good.
But how good? Well, that’s what Saturday will prove.
“Hey, we’re good. We’re a good team,” Gordon said. “We’ll find out next week if we’re great. But right now we’re very good.”
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.