John Knebels

John Knebels

There are 14 football teams that comprise the Catholic League. It’s almost December, and five of them remain very much alive in pursuit of a state championship.


Below are capsules of the postseason challenges that await St. Joseph’s Prep, Archbishop Wood, Cardinal O’Hara, West Catholic and Conwell-Egan on Saturday, Nov. 19.

St. Joseph’s Prep vs. Northeast
6A City Title
5 p.m. at Northeast High School, Philadelphia

Why the 10-0 Hawks are feeling good about their chances:

The undefeated, Catholic League Red Division champion Hawks have averaged 40 points, eclipsed 40 or more points on five occasions and have scored 35 or more points in nine of their 10 tries. Running back D’Andre Swift has rushed for 745 yards and caught 18 passes for 381 yards while accruing a combined 19 touchdowns – in only five games. Quarterback Marquez McCray has passed for 1,609 yards and 18 TDs, while receiver Terrance Greene has caught 30 passes for 491 yards and seven scores. Lineman Ryan Bryce, linebacker James Johnson and defensive back Richard Carroll are first-team All-Catholics on defense.

Prediction: Northeast is 8-2 and has some nice wins, but the Vikings are playing a Prep team that has entertained state title plans since being stunned by La Salle in last year’s Catholic League championship. The Hawks start early and finish late in a 42-13 victory.

Archbishop Wood vs. Simon Gratz
5A City Title
1 p.m at Northeast High School, Philadelphia

Why the 7-2-1 Vikings are feeling good about their chances:

Wood has won seven straight. In last three games, the Vikings have outscored the opposition by 112-22. The first-team All-Catholic backfield of running backs Rasheed Blackshear and Shawn Thompson appear unstoppable. Blackshear has collected 678 yards rushing and 284 receiving and scored 14 touchdowns while Thompson has rushed for 751 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns. Quarterback Jack Colyar (1,357 yards passing, 13 TDs) has a bona fide stud getting open for passes in Mark Webb (27 catches for 526 yards and four TDs), as well as tight end Kyle Pitts. Webb has also intercepted three passes on defense.

Prediction: Simon Gratz is 7-4, but it is no match for the Vikings, who have turned their overall game up several notches after an early disappointing beginning. This one isn’t close, as Wood prevails, 45-0.

Cardinal O’Hara vs. Imhotep
4A City Title
5 p.m. at Northwest Supersite, Philadelphia

Why the 10-0 Lions are feeling good about their chances:

The undefeated Blue Division champs are anchored by linebacker Jamir Redd, defensive lineman Stephon Brown and defensive back Jack Gibson, leading an O’Hara defense that has shut out four foes and allowed only six points to two others. Quarterback Tommy O’Hara has thrown for 13 TDs and rushed for 13 more. Receiver Justin Santilla has caught 32 passes for 482 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has also intercepted three passes.

Prediction: This one is just disappointing, because O’Hara’s opponent is one of the best teams in the country, let alone city or state. Imhotep is 10-0, has outscored its opponents by a surreal 444-27, and corralled six shutouts. Imhotep demolished co-Inter-Ac champ Malvern Prep, 48-7, and city-title finalist Northeast, 44-8. It’s been a marvelous season for O’Hara, bouncing back from a dismal 1-9 campaign last fall. But O’Hara is no match for Imhotep, which moves on with relative ease after posting a 35-0 triumph.

Conwell-Egan vs. Delaware Valley
3A Sub-Regional (Seed 12 vs. Seed 1)
1 p.m. at Northwest Supersite, Philadelphia

Why the 8-3 Eagles are feeling good about their chances:

A strong defense includes four players with multiple interceptions, three by Mitchell Terome. Keenan Baines is a first-team All-Catholic lineman on both offense and defense. Two months ago the Eagles defeated West Catholic, a marquee win that ended the Burrs’ 43-game winning streak in the Catholic League regular season. Running back Patrick Garwo has scored 11 TDs and leads the team in rushing with 689 yards, but he has missed the past two games and might not play against Del-Val. Multiple-Position All-Catholic Kyree Bronson scored six touchdowns last week against KIPP DuBois.

Prediction: Del-Val is 7-4 and has a handful of impressive victories. One of them occurred on Nov. 5, a 14-12 decision over … wait for it … Conwell-Egan. But the Eagles are too good to lose to a similarly matched team twice, so the Eagles’ season will continue following a 21-20 success.

West Catholic vs. Schuylkill Haven
2A First Round, State Playoff
1 p.m. at North Lehigh High School, Slatington

Why the 7-5 Burrs are feeling good about their chances:

The Burrs are 6-2 after a slow start. The All-Catholic backfield of Calil Wortham (865 yards rushing, 9 TDs) and Supreme Kemp (8 TDs) complements quarterback Da’Vion Kidd-Jackson’s 18 TD passes. Kemp is also a first-team All-Catholic linebacker. Receiver Amadou Berry has caught 52 passes for 823 yards and 11 TDs.

Prediction: Schuylkill Valley is 11-1 and has outscored its opponents by a scary 498-104. West Catholic will hang around early, but the Burrs’ season will close with a 31-14 loss.


John Knebels can be reached at or on twitter @johnknebels.