By John Knebels
PHILADELPHIA – If they played against each other 10 times, each would probably win five.
But when it comes to deciding a team champion, it all comes down to one game, and that is why LaSalle High School’s players and fans were celebrating on Northeast High School’s field Friday night.
Led by one of the most efficiently executed passing games in recent memory, the Explorers defeated St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, 35-28, in the Class AAAA Catholic League championship before a jam-packed crowd that wasn’t able to relax until the final minute.
The title was LaSalle’s second straight and third in the past four seasons. So if there is an imaginary baton possessed by the Catholic League’s most elite program, it has been passed from the Prep to LaSalle.
Bottom line is that it’s impossible to argue with three championships in four years.
“Our guys worked extremely hard for this,” said LaSalle coach Drew Gordon. “I’m so happy for them.”
After sophomore quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg’s three touchdown passes – a pair to sophomore Desmon Peoples – had given the Prep a 28-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Explorers mounted an impressive comeback.
While LaSalle’s defense kept the Prep from scoring thanks to a huge sack by junior Ryan Geiger, its offense scored twice. Senior quarterback Drew Loughery’s seven-yard touchdown pass to senior Connor Hoffman and two-point conversion to junior Jamal Abdur-Rahman tied the game at 28-28. LaSalle’s winning drive was masterful, culminated by Loughery’s fourth touchdown pass of the game – a picture-perfect 37-yard slant to junior Kevin Forster. Loughery finished with 21 completions on 31 throws for 297 yards.
After forcing the Prep to punt with 5:57 remaining in regulation, LaSalle (10-1) took over. With the Hawks (9-2) perplexingly out of timeouts, the Explorers used both their running and passing games to run out the clock on their visibly frustrated opponent to preserve the victory and cement a date in the PIAA Class AAAA District 12 championship with Public School champ George Washington High School, which stunned the Explorers last year.
“This is great for the program,” said Loughery. “St. Joe’s was always the team to beat. I think we made a statement with what we have accomplished.”
No one could argue that.
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103