John Knebels

Regardless of what occurs, the three Catholic League football teams that compete in this weekend’s PIAA state semifinals will recognize that this season has been a success.

Right? Well, that depends on whom you ask.

On the record, players are offering the “right” or “politically correct” answers. Off the record, most are saying that anything less than a title would be devastating.

Perhaps the most inclusive response was offered by Archbishop Wood senior quarterback Jack Colyar.


“I wouldn’t say the season would be ruined,” he said, “but that’s not the way we want to go out.”

Colyar returned to health four games ago after an injury robbed him of seven games and now appears in typically strong form.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, the Vikings will face Penn Hills in the Class 5A division at Chambersburg High School. Penn Hills is 15-0 and ranked eighth in the state as compared to Wood, which is 9-3 and ranked 12th. But the Vikings have captured nine of their last 10 games, four of the past five state titles, and five of the last seven, so stiff competition is nothing new.

Same deal for St. Joseph’s Prep. The Hawks shine in December, as evidenced by three state crowns in five seasons and a loss to Pine-Richland in last fall’s final.

Speaking of Pine-Richland, the Prep travels to Altoona to face those same defending champs 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 in a Class 6A meeting that appears guaranteed to be a spectacle.

Currently, the Hawks appear unstoppable. They are 11-0 and allowing less that two touchdowns per game while scoring an average of more than 40 points. Their sophomore quarterback, Kyle McCord, has fired 30 touchdown passes and 2,300 yards of real estate.

“People can play out the narrative that this is a revenge game and the game we’ve been waiting for,” said senior cornerback Zach Bouggess, who leads the team with three interceptions. “But for us, this game is just as important as others because it is the next one.”

Meanwhile, West Catholic brings its 12-2 record to Lehigh/Slatington to take on undefeated Southern Columbia (14-0) in a Class 2A bout 7 p.m. Friday.

Despite losing junior starting quarterback Zaire Hart-Hawkins to a season-ending injury, the Burrs whipped Richland, 35-7, in the quarters. Senior Tre Johnson did a fine job at QB and the defense dominated with four interceptions.

Most people think South Columbia is a lock. That’s just what West wants them to think.

“We are taking this one game at a time,” said senior linebacker/lineman Kha’Jey Frazier. “We are confident but humble, just like we were this whole year. We’re playing the role of the underdogs once again and we plan to keep this mindset throughout the whole week.”


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