Philadelphia High School Football
A Look at
the La Salle-SJ Prep
Thanksgiving Series . . .
Salle and St. Joseph's Prep, the Catholic League's only fully private schools,
met 29 times on
or close to Thanksgiving from 1976 to 2005. (One game was canceled, as was a scheduled meeting
in '06). La Salle won the series, 19-10.
This page includes results, stories, special lists and boxscores.
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Working Overtime . . . And
By Ted Silary
continued right below . . .
The Prep won the yardage battle, 341-110, but was
guilty of four turnovers (after five the first time around). Greg
Frantz and Dom Baker also recovered fumbles for La Salle while Frantz (14), George Hudson (12), Baker, Sean
Saverio, Jeff Liberatore (eight apiece) and Forster (seven) were the tackling leaders.
And Scott Waters got the block, which might not have been needed anyway, because the kick was low, on Tim
Edger's 36-yard field-goal attempt with 6 seconds left in regulation.
St. Joe's will play Cardinal O'Hara on Dec. 3, 7:30 at Northeast, for Red honors. The Explorers? Well, they were
O'Hara's victim, by 35-14, in a semifinal last Saturday.
"We thought we played a nice game," Forster said. "It only got out of control in the last couple minutes. We were
down for a day or two. But by Tuesday, let's say, we were excited about playing Prep."
Said coach Joe Colistra: "Our defense kept us in it. We came in with a lot of confidence and played very
And this is the word from Prep coach Gil Brooks, who is still able to look ahead . . .
"This is a major disappointment for us," he said. "If we have what it takes, we will overcome."
This story was written in 2000, when one of the Prep's heroes was a lineman
with MAJOR La Salle ties . . .
By Ted Silary
In his little-guy days, which were long, long ago, John Connors just knew he would play his high school football
for La Salle.
After all, his grandfather, John " Tex " Flannery, was the Explorers' head coach for 29 seasons ending in 1984.
His uncle, Jack Flannery, was a first-team coaches' All-Catholic quarterback in '72.
Many other relatives also bled/still bleed Blue and Gold.
"When I was in second grade," Connors said, "I went around for Halloween as a La Salle football player. My
grandpop was helping with La Salle's freshman team then. He brought me home a jersey, a helmet, some shoulder
pads. That's what I was, a La Salle player. "
This is what he is: a star guard for St. Joseph's Prep.
The 6-3, 270-pound Connors, a junior considered the area's best lineman by his coach, Gil Brooks, yesterday
blocked like a madman before a full house at La Salle University to help the Hawklets roar from behind and trip
La Salle, 27-14, thus raising their perfect record to 12-0.
La Salle leads on Thanksgiving, 18-7. The overall lead belongs to Prep, 29-27-5, on the strength of two wins
Grandpop Flannery, unwilling to offend John or the school he loves dearly (it's also his alma mater), watched
the game from the steps in front of the building behind the north end zone.
"That's where he always stands," Connors said. "I always know where I can find him.
"When I was a freshman, we had a game against La Salle at Belmont Plateau. He was watching from behind
the end zone and the refs tried to move him. He wouldn't budge."
Connors' decision to attend Prep was reached rather slowly.
As a sixth-grader at SS. Colman/John Neumann School, in Bryn Mawr, Connors noticed that many of the
eighth-graders were headed for Prep.
"Then, in eighth grade," he said, "a lot of my classmates said they were going. I took a visit to both schools. It
wasn't that I disliked La Salle, but. . .
"Prep was coming off a championship [in the '97 season]. I saw they had some real good people in the program.
I was thinking, 'Maybe I'll go there and we'll win one.'
"My grandpop understood. From where I live, it's a lot easier to get to Prep. Anyway, he hates the
In Catholic Red semifinals last weekend, Prep topped Monsignor Bonner, 27-13, and La Salle fell to O'Hara,
23-21, on a field goal with 6 seconds left.
In this one, La Salle jumped to a 14-0 lead as Gabe Marabella (11-for-31, 127 yards) fired touchdown passes
to Ryan Parfitt and Brian Madeira.
"I don't know if we were flat, or what," Connors said. "I just know La Salle was very fired up, and really
wanted to knock us off.
"I wasn't worried about it. We're pretty good at rolling with the punches. We had a couple of good drives
before halftime and carried it on from there."
And how! The Prep's shortest TD covered 40 yards.
Mike McGann and junior wideout Pete Chromiak hooked up for scores of 40, 51 and 80 yards. Kyle Ambrogi
contributed a 59-yard TD run en route to a 24-carry, 226-yard day that lifted his season yardage total to 2,059.
The Prep finished with 422 yards of total offense. The line featured center Mike Minetti, guards Connors
and Pat Spadaro, tackles Matt Battipaglia and Mark Gress and tight end Pat McCauley.
For Connors, the holiday brought a separation from his twin sister, Ro. Then again, they've been apart in one
sense for a long time. Ro is a senior at the Academy of Notre Dame.
As their mom, former Daily News sports writer Mary Flannery, explained recently: "John repeated
kindergarten. He wanted to nap and color some more."
Anyway, Ro is now in Florida competing in a field hockey tournament.
"She called today to complain. 'It's only 70 degrees down here,' " John said, laughing. "I told her, 'Yeah, well
it's 20 here. I don't want to hear it.' "
So far in his Prep career, Connors has avoided receiving unmerciful teasing from all of the La Salle loyalists
in his family.
"We haven't lost to them yet [4-0 mark] in my two varsity seasons," he said. "Every time I go to a family
gathering, I make sure to wear my Prep Football shirt."
Grandpop probably cringes. Just don't expect him to admit it.
These stories about La Salle
quarterback Brett Gordon were written after
the games in 1996 and '97 . . .
By Ted Silary
Brett Gordon 's right foot is now as famous as his right arm, and his La Salle High football team owns the best
record in city-leagues history.
With 46 seconds remaining in regulation yesterday in front of a packed house at La Salle University, and with
his team's long winning streak in jeopardy, Gordon hammered a 17-yard field goal to give the Explorers a 17-14
victory over the Catholic League's other private school, St. Joseph's Prep.
La Salle leads on Thanksgiving, 17-4.
"Whenever field goal chances come up, I just pretend it's practice,'' said Gordon, who has kicked five field
goals this season. "I kick 10 to 15 times in practice every day from various distances. I'm used to it.''
La Salle, winner of 24 straight, is 13-0 this season. No Catholic, Public or Inter-Ac team had ever been better
than 12-0 or 12-0-1.
Next Friday, 7 p.m., at Northeast, the Explorers will meet Father Judge for the CL title. Judge also won 13
games in 1975, but had a loss in the regular season.
According to La Salle coach Joe Colistra, who said he viewed a tape of the game, his team was denied
touchdowns at least twice in the four plays preceding the field goal.
Colistra said Mike Mattia caught a pass in the end zone and was pushed out on a play that set up first-and-goal
from a whisker. He also said the ballcarrier broke the plane on at least one of the three running plays that followed.
During the timeout that preceded the field goal, there was no hesitation.
"Score tied, so little time left, no question, field goal,'' Colistra said.
Said Gordon: ``We felt it was the safest way to get the points.''
Gordon completed 24 of 36 passes for 240 yards and one score each to Mike Durso (seven catches, 69
yards) and Tim McNichol (4-66). The Prep received strong efforts from quarterback David Hand (10-for-23,
124), rusher Aaron Brown (18-80) and receiver Brian Kraus, who caught six passes for 94 yards and whipped
a 43-yard scoring pass to Jermaine Slade.
The Hawklets were coming off a loss to Judge in the semifinals.
"They took it to us,'' Colistra said. "We weren't thinking of the winning streak, really. We just didn't want to
tarnish our record going into the championship game. In many ways, this one meant as much as that one. ''
Said Gordon: ``We had to approach it as a playoff game. It wouldn't have felt right to go into the championship
game with a loss to our rival.''
1997 story here . . .
The polls are closed and the numbers are in. What they show is overwhelming.
Brett Gordon , a 5-10 1/2, 170-pound senior, completed one of the more storied football careers in Catholic
League history yesterday. His team, La Salle, lost to St. Joseph's Prep, 20-16, at La Salle University, but
Gordon put on an amazing show considering that strong winds were whipping all game long.
Gordon completed 21 of 38 passes for a career-high 323 yards and two touchdowns, a 7-yarder to Mike
Lorusso and a 26-yarder to Eric Seiferth.
He finished the season 175-for-301 (58 percent) for 2,647 yards and 33 touchdowns. The yardage total broke
the city leagues record (2,547) set in 1989 by St. Joe's Frank Costa and the TD total extended Gordon's own
city leagues record, broken earlier this season. He threw a record 28 in 1996.
In three varsity seasons, Gordon passed 482-for-884 for 6,837 yards and 84 TDs. All four numbers represent
city leagues records and the 84 TDs are a state mark.
Not to be overlooked are Gordon's kicking feats. He had a 32-yard field goal and a PAT yesterday, giving
him six field goals and 35 PAT for 53 points.
Careerwise, he had 91 PAT and 15 field goals for 136 points. The PAT and points numbers are four and 13
short of the city leagues records, respectively.
A month ago, the Explorers were riding high with a 32-game winning streak and expecting to win a third
consecutive championship. But they lost to Archbishop Ryan, 14-13, in their next-to-last division game and,
after rebounding with a 43-8 destruction of Conwell-Egan, were hammered by Father Judge, 47-14, in a
"Honestly, at the time, I didn't think the end of the streak would affect us very much. But maybe it did,''
Gordon said. "We weren't ourselves against Judge. We came to play today, but . . . we didn't make enough
"We could walk out with our heads high, though. We gave it our best shot.''
For college, Gordon is looking at Villanova (alma mater of his father, Drew, also a quarterback), Penn,
William & Mary and Lehigh.
"I'm hoping to visit all four,'' he said.
This brief breakdown was part of a
notes column in 2004, five days after SJ
Prep QB Jim McCormick experienced an amazing moment . . .
The end zone welcomes those who help themselves.
St. Joe's Prep senior Jim McCormick discovered that on Thanksgiving after his pass from the 5-yard line,
on a quick out to flanker Steve Quinn, was batted high into the air by La Salle defensive end Scott Waters.
McCormick caught the ball, surged across the goal line and, by rule, received credit for a touchdown pass
and TD catch.
"It sunk in later, especially when we were watching films and the guys were teasing me," said McCormick,
who last season as a JV player made conversion snags via trick plays. "It was neat. The ball got batted back
[close to the 10]. It wasn't hard to catch it."
McCormick credited several teammates with key blocks.
"He got no good blocks. Not one," coach Gil Brooks said, laughing. "There was a pack of people, mostly
La Salle guys. Jim got through them while they were mostly bouncing off each other."
. . .
LA SALLE 27, SJ PREP 0
SJP 0 0 0 0 -- 0
LaS 7 13 7 0 -- 27
LaS: Chris Santoro 1 run (Del Markward kick)
LaS: John Gannon 32 pass from Dave Asman (Markward kick)
LaS: Mike Vesey 8 pass from Asman (kick failed)
LaS: Gannon 70 pass from Asman (Markward kick)
LA SALLE 19, SJ PREP 13
SJP 0 6 0 7 -- 13
LaS 0 0 6 13 -- 19
SJP: Joe Rabuck 3 run (kick failed)
LaS: Bill Esposito 2 run (kick failed)
LaS: Eddie Meehan recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick failed)
SJP: Mike Hennessey 23 pass from Rabuck (Aidan Diviny kick)
LaS: Neil O'Brien 11 pass from John Dean (Byrne kick)
SJ PREP 3, LA SALLE 0
SJP 0 3 0 0 -- 3
La S 0 0 0 0 -- 0
SJP: FG Jim Wallace 40
LA SALLE 15, SJ PREP 14
SJP 0 14 0 0 -- 14
La S 0 7 0 8 -- 15
SJP: Darryl Brown 62 pass from Sean Rooney (Jim Wallace kick)
SJP: Rooney 1 run (Wallace kick)
LaS: Marc Mims 13 pass from Larry Daniel (Dave Byrne kick)
LaS: Steve Rosati 23 pass from Bob Harrison (Eddie Meehan pass from Mims)
LA SALLE 27, SJ PREP 14
SJP 0 0 0 14 -- 14
LaS 7 7 7 6 -- 27
LaS: Rick Frost 42 run (George Winslow kick)
LaS: John Avallone 4 run (Winslow kick)
LaS: Dan Sabia 1 run (Winslow kick)
SJP: Leo Carlin 4 run (John Spahr pass from Rich Gannon)
LaS: Winslow 42 pass from Rob Harrison (kick failed)
SJP: Paul Shoup 1 run (run failed)
LA SALLE 9, SJ PREP 0
SJP 0 0 0 0 -- 0
LaS 0 0 0 9 -- 9
LaS: Safety, Max Mellet and John Brady tackled Rich Gannon in end zone
LaS: John Morrison 1 run (George Winslow kick)
LA SALLE 3, SJ PREP 0
SJP 0 0 0 0 -- 0
LaS 3 0 0 0 -- 3
LaS: FG Chris White 23
Scores . . .
Run: 99, Mike Brown, La Salle, 1994
Catch: 80, Pete Chromiak, SJ Prep, 2000
Pass: 80, Mike McGann, SJ Prep, 2000
Interception: 69, Mike Zeccardi, La Salle, 1995
Blocked punt: 25, Brian Vesey, La Salle, 1987
Field goal: 41, Mike Savage, La Salle, 1998
|TOP PERFORMANCES, 1980-2005|
|Mike Brown||La S||1994||117|
|Doug Ward||La S||1986||105|
|Jack Stanczak||La S||1987||100|
|Bill Tatar||La S||1992||100|
|Brett Gordon||La S||1997||323|
|Brett Gordon||La S||1996||240|
|Gabe Marabella||La S||1999||172|
|Brett Gordon||La S||1995||149|
|Rob Harrison||La S||1980||145|
|Chikwere Amachi||La S||1997||121|
|George Winslow||La S||1980||102|