When you haven’t lost a game in two years, the metaphorical novel includes some chapters that are somewhat distinct.
St. Joseph Prep’s 31-0 victory Saturday night, Nov. 18, over host Northeast High School applies.
While seizing the Class 6A District XII championship and increasing their winning streak to 25, the 11-0 Hawks used every phase of their arsenal to finish off the Public League’s best team with relative ease.
“We just take it one game at a time, some a little tougher than others, but we believe each game is just as important as the next,” said senior James Cherry. “We take out the publicity and hype and just trust and love one another and our coaches. And at the end of the day, we are playing to stay with each other. We are a family.”
Cherry supplied the, please accept the liberty of a softball-sized pun here, cherry on top when he picked up a key block by junior Mike Alexander and returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Whatever conceivable possibility the Vikings had of climbing back into contention was officially eliminated.
“I just followed the advice of my coach,” said Cherry. “I was told to ‘knife it’ and to just rely on my speed and teammates, and I did just that. They led me to the end zone.”
The Prep’s defense chipped in with two safeties along with a touchdown fumble return by senior DeJuan Dandridge. On offense, the Hawks uncharacteristically struggled to find any kind of rhythm, so they turned to their backfield for insurance.
It paid off.
Junior Marques Mason accrued a career-high 109 yards on 12 carries. Sophomore Kolbe Burrell added 40 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
“I couldn’t have had a game like this without the offensive line putting in work in practice,” said Mason. “They work extremely hard and I love all those guys.”
The Hawks will start defending last year’s PIAA state title when they meet Parkland High School at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25 at Bethlehem Liberty High. The Prep has captured three of the past four state crowns.
“Our mindset is taking one game at a time,” said Mason. “We prepare the same for every opponent. All we are focused on is beating Parkland this weekend.”
Prep senior standout defender Phil O’Connor agreed.
“Same approach as every other week,” he said. “Every week is a big game.”