Please support our Reporters

Open Dates
2024 HS Football Schedules
Coaching Jobs

Sublimated Uniforms

HS Football Scoreboard

Imhoptep beats the past winning the 5A state title, 38-13, over Peters Township

Written by: on Saturday, December 9th, 2023. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.


Photos by Matt Topper

MECHANICSBURG, PA — There was a lot to unload. It could be seen in their eyes as the Imhotep Charter team walked stoically in pairs out of the Cumberland Valley High School gym, through the hall, and onto the field. The tonnage they carried came in six state championship losses that they began chiseling down since August.

The Panthers entered this season haunted by the laughing ghosts of history—by previous Imhotep teams that failed to do what they, too, failed to do a year ago. Their goal was born from failure, urged further to shed the “choker” label by the western side of the state—especially by District 7 schools.

The 2023 Imhotep Panthers are not chokers anymore. They exorcised the laughing ghosts from state championships past with an emphatic 38-13 victory over District 7 champion Peters Township in the PIAA Class 5A championship on Friday night at Cumberland Valley’s Chapman Field.

It marked the second state championship in Imhotep history, snapping the five-game state title losing streak the Panthers were lugging. Imhotep also beat a District 7 team for the first time in the state championship, after going 0-3 (South Fayette in 2013, Penn Trafford in 2021, and Pine Richland in 2022). This is also the second undefeated team in Imhotep history—the first being the Panthers’ first state champion in 2015. It is also the first state championship for Panthers’ coach Devon Johnson, who was on the Imhotep staff when the program last won a state crown.

“This feels amazing,” Johnson said. “This is surreal, just to be where we were last year, and to finish this season undefeated, winning the state title. This is for us, for all Imhotep players past and present, and all the Imhotep coaches, past and present. I love our players, and our coaches, for fighting through all the bad talk about us, I’m so proud of these guys.

“This is my first graduating group. I watched these seniors be down, and pick themselves up over and over again. This team pulled together and stayed focused throughout the entire season. We’re bringing it back home.”

Entering the game, the Panthers were 1-6 in state title games. The coaches knew it. The school knew it. The players knew it.

Panthers’ Army-bound quarterback Mikal Davis put an end to it. He did it by putting this team on his shoulders as he has done many times. When the Panthers were dangerously close to losing to Roman Catholic, down by 10 with 8 minutes to play, in the first round of the state playoffs, it was Davis that pulled them over the finish line.

In the state championship, it was the same thing.

He never ran away from the Panthers’ state championship ledger. He ran to it, intent on changing it, and in doing so, left a legacy.

“I feel on top of the world, I feel like I can’t be stopped right now,” Davis said. “This was made August 7, Day One, the first day of training camp. It was the hard work and dedication. After we lost the state title (last year), we had Sunday service the next day. I know what it is like walking off this field losing. I never wanted to feel like that again. I’m a lot different than I was a year ago. This team is a lot different than it was a year ago.

“We did the brain training, we had a next-play mentality and blocked out the noise. I’m going to remember these guys forever. These guys are my brothers for life. When we get older, this is all something we will share for life.”

Davis will go down as the best quarterback in Imhotep history, which was his aspiration this year. He knows that would not have happened without finishing the mission of a state title. He leaves as Imhotep’s all-time leading passer with 2,417 career yards passing, including the 184 he threw for in the championship game, exceeding the previous mark of 2,168 by Nasir Boykin, the Panthers’ starting quarterback for their 2015 state champion.

Seniors Davis, Penn State-bound Kenny Woseley, Pitt-bound Jah’Sear Whittington, David Johnson, Anthony Richardson, Nile Brown, Raheem Reid and Johann Hennington established a stable foundation. It is a team that never got too high, or too low. It is a team that stayed steady, emotionless—like the way they walked out to the field.

The game was over at halftime—thanks to three Davis touchdowns. The most points Peters Township gave up in a game this season was 28, and the Panthers scored 24 by halftime.

Imhotep took a 24-7 lead into intermission scoring on four of their first five possessions. The Panthers outgained Peters Township by 200 yards, 277-77, by halftime. Davis ran for 83 yards on nine carries in the first 24 minutes, averaging 8.7 yards a carry, and completed six of eight for 113 yards and an interception, which came off a deflection.

For the game, Imhotep finished with nearly 500 yards of total offense, outgaining the Indians, 481-152, averaging 7.76 yards a play.

That had a lot to do with the Panthers’ unsung offensive front of left tackle Zafir Stewart, left guard Johnson, center Richardson, right guard Nick Williams, right tackle Brian Moore and tight ends Hennington and Jayden Pedre.

On the defensive side, Whittington, Woseley, Zahir Mathis, Reid and Kahir Hood held Peters Township to a mere 2.96 yards per play in the first half and 3.17 yards for the game.

Georgia-bound Jabree Wallace-Coleman broke out for a game-high 214 yards rushing on 30 carries, averaging 7.1 yards a carry, while scoring one TD.

Imhotep has been to the state finals eight times (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022 and 2023), and in 2015, the Panthers made history by becoming the first Philadelphia public school to win a state championship in football by taking the Class 5A title.

It’s taken eight years, when many of these Panthers just began playing football, but the dusty 2015 state title banner hanging in the Imhotep gym will have long-awaited company.

“We were locked in, we were locked in all year,” Woseley said. “I was on two losing state championships, and sadly, I know what it is like to lose. Going through brain training, we learned you have to enjoy losing, because you learn more from your mistakes. I can say I was a part of the most memorable ‘Tep team because it was. This is ours. We’re not chokers anymore.”

Scoring Summary

Peters Township (15-1) 0 7 0 6-13

Imhotep Charter (15-0) 10 14 7 7-38

1st Quarter

IC – Mikal Davis 1 run (Kenneth Woseley kick), 8:19

IC – Woseley 30 FG, 1:25

2nd Quarter

IC – Davis 22 run (Woseley kick), 5:33

PT – Thomas Aspinall 12 pass from Nolan DiLucia (Carter Shanfelt kick), 2:55

IC – Davis 22 run (Woseley kick), 1:30

3rd Quarter

IC – Jabree Wallace-Coleman 68 run (Woseley kick), 9:44

4th Quarter

IC – Johann Hennington 50 pass from Davis (Wosesley kick), 10:27

PT – Aspinall 9 pass from Lucas Rost (kick failed), 4:59




RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 22-55/50-297


Passes Cmp-Att-Int 12-26-0/8-12-1


Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0/0-0

Punt Returns-Yards 0-0/0-0

Kickoff Returns-Yards 6-91/3-13

Interception Returns-Yards 1-6/0-0

Punts (Number-Avg) 7-36.1/2-23.5

Fumbles-Lost 0-0/1-0

Penalties-Yards 2-10/9-70

Possession Time 20:51/27:09

Third-Down Conversions 6 of 14/9 of 13

Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 0/1 of 1

Red-Zone Scores-Chances 2-3/3-3

Joseph Santoliquito is a hall-of-fame, award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito []. Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball [].

Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball

Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball

Leave a Reply