Four Chocolate Crowns
Tis the season to be jolly and four Pennsylvania high school football teams will get an early Christmas present this weekend. The 2014 football season ends with the championships at all four classification levels decided at Hershey Park Stadium by Saturday night. The weather should cooperate with a dry field and just a slight chill in the air.
The final round features the squads that have survived the long season by finding a way to win with goal line stands, Hail Mary passes and last quarter rallies. They have played in the heat of late summer and the chill of late fall and it all comes down to one last game.
The last eight years the prognostication record stands at 414-177 while going 50-20 for this season. Pine-Richland, St Joseph Prep and Archbishop Wood all won as predicted while Dunmore’s win over Wyomissing and Central Valley’s win over Bishop McDevitt accounted for the two bad calls. Time to focus on this championship weekend.
Pine-Richland vs St Joseph Prep
The Pine-Richland Rams advanced to Hershey with a thrilling come from behind win over Wilson West Lawn 28-17. The Rams were trailing at half 17-7 but dug down deep to score 21 unanswered points in the second half to live to fight another day. QB Ben Dinucci and receiver Michael Merhaut came through to assure the victory with a fourth quarter TD hook-up. The St Joseph Prep Hawks exploded to a 37-7 win over District One champion Pennsbury. The Falcons offense could not get off the ground and the Hawks found their running attack with TD runs by Olamide Zaccheaus, Deandre Swift and Benny Walls accounting for the road to victory. St Joe Prep is in position to defend last year’s title, a 35-10 victory over Pittsburgh Central Catholic. The Hawks may be hampered by the injury to top receiver John Reid but have plenty of other options by land and air. The Rams have averaged 45 points per game this year and their defense has only allowed an average of 14 points per game. The Hawks have played a national power schedule and have experienced a championship run last year. This will be the key to their hard fought win to retain their AAAA championship.
St. Joseph Prep 34 Pine-Richland 28
Archbishop Wood vs Central Valley
The Archbishop Wood Vikings once again over powered a very tough opponent last week with an impressive running attack. Jarret McClenton was on fire rushing for 232 yards supported by Alex Arcangeli’s 141 yards in a 63-20 victory over Somerset. The Central Valley Warriors enter their first state finals with a 15-0 record in 2014 and impressive hard fought 26-21 win over Bishop McDevitt last Saturday. The Warriors followed the lead of running back Jordon Whitehead and QB John George all season and should not be over looked by the high powered Vikings. Archbishop Wood is also defending last year’s AAA championship and will be tough to dislodge by even the most talented team. Another repeat is in order.
Archbishop Wood 41 Central Valley 26
Dunmore vs South Fayette
The Dunmore Bucks are back in Hershey as a double A contestant after a few years in single A classification. It does not seem to matter to Dunmore in what level they play with a single A state title in 1989 and runner up finishes in AA state finals 2003 and 2004. This season found the Bucks reaching Hershey with an upset come from behind victory over Wyomissing 23-21. Dunmore features a potent running game with Sal Marchese and Colin Holmes leading the way. The Bucks must overcome another favored opponent and defending AA state champion South Fayette a 44-14 semi-final winner over Hickory. The Lions feature a very talented QB Brett Brumbaugh who has passed for 3618 yards and 40 TD’s this season. South Fayette talent continues to impress with a receiving core that includes Nick Ponikvar, Ryan Schmider and Dan Trimbur. Once again we have a defending champion in Hershey and that experience along with a dual threat offense gives the Lions a slight advantage.
South Fayette 35 Dunmore 24
Bishop Guilfoyle vs Clairton
This is a battle of two undefeated well coached single A squads. The Clairton Bears are very familiar visitors to Hershey Park Stadium. The Bears have another QB of note in Ryan Williams. He has almost 3000 passing yards and 38 TD’s this season and that’s just the beginning with this squad. Running backs Lamont Wade and Aaron Matthews have been fierce with over 3000 ground yards between this dual-force. Clairton averages 63 points per game and might be considered unstoppable. However there will be another team on the field that has not tasted defeat this season. The Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders overcame South Williamsport last Saturday 28-21. The Marauders boast a 47 point per game average and a QB that can both run and pass. Brandon Chadbourne has almost 1400 passing yards with 900 yards on the ground for good measure. Running back Sam McCloskey compliments his QB with the ability to run and receive out of the backfield. Clairton’s tradition will be the deciding factor in this one.
Clairton 54 Bishop Guilfoyle 28
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