St. Joe’s Prep aims for a threepeat 6A state title, after beating Souderton
From a distance, it looks close. Up close, it wasn’t.
The scoreboard indicated that St. Joseph’s Prep just got by District 1 6A champion Souderton in the PIAA Eastern finals, 51-43, at Cardinal O’Hara on Saturday afternoon.
The scoreboard said it was a one-score game. What happened on the field, while the game was still competitive, told a different story.
The reality of it was The Prep had dominated the first half and held a 44-7 advantage over Souderton, before St. Joe’s coach Tim Roken very graciously pulled all of his starters for the entire second half. The Hawks and Roken could have scored 100 if they wanted.
St. Joe’s Prep (5-0) will now face Central York (10-0) and Penn State-bound quarterback Beau Pribula on Saturday for its third-straight PIAA Class 6A state championship. The Hawks have won five state titles since 2013 and three out of four since the 6A classification was created in 2016. The last Pennsylvania state champion to threepeat at the large-school level (Class 4A until 2016) was Central Bucks West (1997, ’98 and ’99), led by late legendary coach Mike Pettine.
“I think this senior group is special and they’ve obviously had the great experience of being on that stage the last two years, and this goal was in the back of their minds, I’m sure,” Roken said. “But really as this year has gone, because of the ups and downs, and rollercoaster ride, and the stop-and-go, it’s really become for us it’s one day at a time, make the most of our opportunities, and continue to find ways to stay together. That’s what we have—one more week and we’re grateful for that.
“But it’s about playing to a standard, not to what the scoreboard looks like, and our young guys got put in a situation and they started scoring some points. We as a staff trust those guys. And those guys have to learn to play to the same standard. We have an opportunity to be together for one more week. You got to a point in a game where you feel confident. The touchdowns started coming from the other side and we finished believing in those guys. I thought offensively, we got cooking right away, and defensively, we shut them down in the first half. We gave up that one in the first half. You can’t overshadow a win, regardless of how the game went. We have to be grateful for that.”
Prep got out to a 30-0 lead. Kyle McCord completed 11 of 20 for 193 yards and six touchdowns—in just one half. Sahmir Hagans caught three touchdowns, and Marvin Harrison Jr. caught three passes for 88 yards, including TD receptions of 30 and 36 yards.
But the defense stymied the Indians in every way. Souderton didn’t cross midfield until just under 7:00 left in the half.
The Hawks held Souderton to 0 yards of total offense in the first quarter and 85 yards of offense from scrimmage in the half.
Sophomore linebacker Josiah Trotter and sophomore defensive end Matt DuMond combined for 10 tackles for -10 yards in losses and an interception.
“I got to play with my brother (Jeremiah Trotter Jr.) one last time and I just had to get myself together and I have to be a better leader,” said Trotter, who came back to make the first two tackles of the second half after his brother left the game with an injury. “My mind was someplace else; it was with my brother. But I had to stay focused and continue playing.”
“Everything starts with practice, and we aren’t too pleased, because we set a high standard, and if we do put in our best, we don’t have to worry about anything else,” DuMond said. “We’re not worried about who we play next week. We have to correct the film on Sunday and I do think our best football is ahead of us. Next week, it’s the biggest game of the season, and I know when we get out there, it’s game time. Nothing else matters but us.”
What, or rather who, made the game far more cosmetically pleasing on the Souderton side was 5-foot-11, 170-pound sophomore receiver Shaun Purvy, who caught a career-best and game-high 12 passes for 158 yards, including TD catches of 48 and 33 yards.
“We knew they were a great team and I’ll admit, at first I think our whole team had a lot of butterflies, but we kept playing,” Purvy said. “I feel like if I could play as well against this team, I can do that against anyone, I just have to get bigger. It’s very sad to say goodbye to the seniors. We won a district championship for the first time, and how far we got in the state playoffs.”
Souderton coach Ed Gallagher was rightfully pleased about how hard his team played—especially Purvy.
“Shaun may have earned himself a scholarship today playing against a great team,” Gallagher said. “They’re a great team over there, and coach Roken is a class act. But my kids played their butts off and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
SOUDERTON (7-1) 0-7-21-15 43
JOSEPH’S PREP (5-0) 30-14-7-0 51
SJP – Sahmir Hagans 25 pass from Kyle McCord (Antonio Chadha kick), 9:46
SJP – Hagans 10 pass from McCord (Chadha kick), 5:03
SJP – Safety punt blocked by Julian Talley through the end zone, 2:45
SJP – Marvin Harrison Jr. 30 pass from McCord (Chadha kick), 2:18
SJP – Harrison Jr. 36 pass from McCord (Chadha kick), :13
SJP – Hagans 4 pass from McCord (Chadha kick), 7:36
S – Evan Kutzler 3 run (Nick Haynes kick), 1:37
SJP – Reese Clark 4 pass from McCord (Chadha kick), :26
SJP – Malik Cooper 86 kickoff return (Chadha kick), 11:34
S – Kyle Bob 31 pass from Kutzler (Haynes kick), 6:59
S – Shaun Purvy 48 pass from Kutzler (Haynes kick), 6:15
S – Jalen White 3 run (Haynes kick), :00
S – Purvy 33 pass from Kutzler (Jacob Horton pass from Kutzler), 3:49
S – Brayden Porter 5 run (Haynes kick), :03
Joseph Santoliquito is an 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 EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
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