St. Joe’s Prep dominates Delaware powerhouse Middletown, 24-6, on ESPN
The two operative words kept echoing all week for St. Joe’s Prep, “rebound and respond.” And this was much needed towards that stream of thought. It wasn’t going to eradicate the loss last week, though it helped ease some of the frustration.
St. Joe’s Prep received a healthy dose of redemption Friday night, and the Hawks did it in of all places—on national TV, when they squashed perennial Delaware powerhouse Middletown, 24-6, on ESPN.
The victory snapped Middletown’s 30-game home winning streak that dated back to September 2015, and it pushed Prep to 3-2 overall this season while the Cavaliers lost for the first time this season, dropping to 4-1.
“We had a great week of work, with practice and preparation and it was a great atmosphere, Hawks’ coach Tom Roken said. “Offensively, we struggled with being able to run the ball consistently in the first half, but we were able to rebound and respond. We played well in the red zone, making some big plays. We stressed rallying to the ball this week.”
Senior tailback Blaine Bunch rushed for a pair of touchdowns of 7 and 2 yards. Sophomore Kahseim Phillips added an 11-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Antonio Chadha booted a 38-yard field goal.
The Hawks’ only flaw the entire night was a breakdown on one play, when Davis hit Rob Hinson for a 52-yard catch-and-run with 4:43 left in the third quarter. Prep responded with a seven-play, 70-yard drive ending in Phillips’ TD.
It’s been an underlying theme to this Prep team: When the Hawks get hit, they don’t cower, they rebound and respond. Against La Salle last week, Prep trailed 28-14, and answered with a touchdown drive. After Middletown scored, the Hawks did the same thing.
The Hawks defense, which took some shots last week in a 28-21 loss to Catholic League archrival La Salle, was dominant and stubborn.
If it wasn’t junior linebacker Josiah Trotter making another tackle, or junior defensive end Matt Dumond causing chaos up front of picking off a pass, or Keenan Nelson and Omillio Agard defending a pass, or freshman safety Anthony Sacca making a diving interception, it was someone else on the Hawks’ defense making a play.
“Our team faced a lot of adversity, so I would say this was a great rebound from last week,” said Agard, one of the country’s top sophomores. “We still have work to do, but it was great to show on a big stage that we’re still ‘The Prep,’ and last week’s performance is not who we are. We had to rebound, and we had to rebound with great defense.”
At times, it seemed as if Prep had 14 players on the field, making Middletown’s South Carolina-bound quarterback Braden Davis look pedestrian, scrambling for time and space from St. Joe’s pressure all night.
Prep rushed for 273 yards, most of it coming from sophomore quarterback Samaj Jones, who rushed for a game-high 116 yards on 13 carries. Tackles Brad Harris and Alec Treadway, guards Lakeem Steele and George Reinhard and center Julian Cervantes had a lot to do with that. The group played well this season, but perhaps, to this point, probably played their best game this season.
“This definitely helped us, it was hard rewatching the La Salle film and that fueled this week,” Dumond said. “It was definitely a wake-up call and gave us motivation for this week. Since we had such a great week of practice, it showed that if you put the work in and are prepared, the sky is the limit.”
St. Joe’s Prep (3-2) 7 3 14 0-24
Middletown (Del.) (4-1) 0 0 6 0-6
SJP – Blaine Bunch 7 run (Antonio Chadha kick), 7:44
SJP – Chadha 38 FG :03
SJP – Bunch 2 run (Antonio Chadha kick), 8:45
M – Rob Hinson 52 pass from Braden Davis (kick failed), 4:43
SJP – Kahseim Phillips 11 run (Chadha kick), 2:26
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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