HERSHEY, PA — With three minutes remaining in regulation and the unfortunate reality having begun to settle in, numerous members of the St. Joseph’s Prep sideline verbally encouraged their teammates on the field.
“Let’s go, defense,” said one voice.
“Get the job done,” said another.
And then the final seconds ticked away, and a storybook season for the Hawks was missing a key chapter – a victory celebration.
Led by one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, Notre Dame University-bound Philip Jurkovec, undefeated Pine-Richland (16-0) used a dominant second half to dethrone the defending champion Hawks, 41-21, in the PIAA Class 6A state championship final Saturday, Dec. 9 at the majestic Hershey Park Stadium.
Despite the chocolaty environs, very little was sweet about the Prep’s attempt to win a second straight state crown and fourth in five seasons.
“It’s very hard, especially knowing all the hard work that everyone put in since January working to that goal,” said All-Catholic defensive back Dawson Deiuliis. “We just came up a little short.
“Pine Richland was a great team and they made the plays they needed to, and we did not. I’m just very grateful for the experiences over the last four years and wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
While watching a 27-game winning streak over two seasons evaporate among atypical maladies such as turnovers, dropped passes, errant passes and untimely penalties (some highly questionable), the Hawks (13-1) remained motivated to play until the end.
On 13 carries, sophomore Kolbe Burrell rumbled for a career-high 158 yards and his 14th touchdown – he scored in 11 of the Prep’s 14 games – and provided the Hawks with a glimpse of hope when he raced 56 yards for a touchdown with 3:46 left in the third quarter to lower the deficit to 28-14.
Junior Marques Mason added 73 yards and a touchdown (his 14th of the season and sixth in four games). Senior quarterback Marquez McCray hooked up with Brandon Sanders (5 catches for 60 yards) for the senior receiver’s ninth score of the fall.
On defense, senior All-Catholic Phil O’Connor (athletic interception to kill a scoring drive early in the first half) and senior lineman Rayshad Wallace shined.
Prep coach Gabe Infante felt badly for his players, especially the Prep seniors, but in usual form emerged optimistic.
“I’m proud of my boys,” he said. “We will be back.”
John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.
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