SJ Prep . . . 2014 PIAA Class AAAA State Champs!
On Dec. 13, at Hersheypark
Stadium, St. Joseph's Prep beat Pine-Richland, 49-41, to
a second consecutive state championship. The
Hawks were led by D'Andre Swift, who scored four TDs and totaled 276
scrimmage yards. Olamide Zaccheaus added two scores and made a
leaping, end-zone interception at 0:00 to preserve the win. James Bell had a
TD catch, Jack Clements passed for 217 yards and three scores and Nick Bell
went 7-for-7 on PAT. Nick Vandevere had an interception along with 14
tackles (11 solos) and Jake Strain had nine and eight.
Photo by Dan Macartney.
THE SEASON, GAME BY GAME
|at Mt. Carmel (Ill.)||W||28||27|
|Don Bosco (NJ)||%L||7||35|
|at St. Ignatius (Ohio)||L||34||42|
|at St. Joseph's Reg. (NJ)||L||29||47|
|at Malvern (Villanova Stadium)||W||49||28|
|Judge 4A semi (at P-W)||W||49||7|
|La Salle 4A final (at NE)||W||46||13|
|Franklin 4A CT (at NE)||W||47||22|
|Parkland 4A qtr (at Bethlehem)||W||34||30|
|Pennsbury 4A semi (at NE)||W||37||7|
|Pine-Richland 4A final (at Hershey)||W||49||41|
|%-halted by lightning 2:33 before halftime|
TITLE GAME BOXSCORE . . .
RUSHING -- SJP: Swift 22-220, Walls 7-52, Zaccheaus 10-34,
Bell 8-31, Clements 4-(-7). P-R: DiNucci 10-81, E. Williams 8-51,
Slomka 14-46, Gastion 1-21, Burnham 1-7.
PASSING -- SJP: Clements 9-16-0 -- 217. P-R: DiNucci 33-47-2
RECEIVING -- SJP: Swift 4-56, Zaccheaus 3-123, Bell 1-28,
Simmons 1-10. P-R: Merhaut 14-112, Battaglia 8-119, Gastion 6-109,
Everett 3-34, E. Williams 2-11.
INTERCEPTIONS -- SJP: Vandevere, Zaccheaus.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES -- SJP: Walls, Bill. P-R: Goncz.
TACKLING LEADERS -- SJP: Vandevere 14, Strain 9, Harris,
Zaccheaus and Montague 7, Dirks and DeIuliis 5. P-R: Merhaut 18,
LeMirande 8, Burnham 7, Goncz and Everett 6.
SACKS -- SJP: Harris. P-R: Goncz.
OTHER TFLs -- SJP: None. P-R: LeMirande, Everett, Gastion,
|(Note: Star WR-DB-Ret. John Reid unavailable due to injury)|
|C||Ed Mooney||64||T||Armen Ware||34|
|G||Mark Ehrlich||53||T||Alec Dirks||44|
|G||Shane Davis||56||E||Joe DuMond||45|
|T||Jon Daniel Runyan||75||E||Jake Strain||40|
|T||Charlie Holsopple||73||OLB||Thomas Johnson||2|
|*TE||Joe DuMond||45||OLB||Shaun Harris||8|
|*TE||Jake Strain||10||MLB||Nick Vandevere||4|
|WR||Justin Montague||17||CB||D'Andre Swift||7|
|#WR||Davion Kidd-Jackson||15||CB||Justin Montague||17|
|#WR||Darryle Simmons||87||*CB||Olamide Zaccheaus||1|
|QB||Jack Clements||6||FS||Benny Walls||22|
|RB||Olamide Zaccheaus||1||SS||Dillon DeIuliis||41|
|RB||D'Andre Swift||7||#FS||Justin Montague||17|
|+RB||Benny Walls||22||*-significant playing time|
|K||Nick Bill||33||#-certain alignments|
|*shared position (when used)|
|+significant playing time|
SEASON STATISTICAL LEADERS . . .
(Number in red: TD passes)
|199 3||17||229 3||163 1||180 2||232 1||141 4||131 2||162 2||51 1||93 1||266 4||42||217 3||2123 27|
(Number next to name indicates TD passes)
SELECTED PICTURES . . .
Injured star John Reid and assistant Keita Crespina.
Heading toward the locker room after completing pregame workouts.
Darryle Simmons is upended on 10-yard catch.
D'Andre Swift soars into end zone for one of his four TDs.
(Photo by Dan Macartney)
Nick Vandevere returns an interception. (Photo by Dan Macartney)
Coach Gabe Infante (holding trophy) and his assistants. (Photo by Dan Macartney)
WEBSITE REPORT . . .
CLASS AAAA FINAL
SJ Prep 49, Pine-Richland 41
(At Hersheypark Stadium)
Talk about new-school! This all-timer featured every possible element, and showed why modern-day games can make you excited and exhausted to equal degrees. If some guy does an investigation, here's what he'll find: Both teams were coached by Chip Kelly (smile). The teams combined for 1,138 scrimmage yards and the all-purpose total was 1,329. The Hawks lost those battles, 591-547 and 731-598, but here's guessing they don't mind even a little since the end result was their second consecutive state crown. When was it secured? Not until, literally, the scoreboard clock showed 0:00. The final play began at 2.9 and the ball was stationed at the Prep's 25. The Hawks' defensive alignment featured four guys across the goal line and three more across the 10 -- a 4-3-4 covering 25 yards. Sr. QB Ben DiNicci, who will have all kinds of fun while directing Penn's offense, could only launch a jump-ball throw toward the end zone, and hope. Up the pigskin went. Down it came in the arms of sr. DB Olamide Zaccheaus. After the players and coaches rushed out to the end zone to celebrate, assistant Keita Crespina, the former Lincoln/Temple star, could be heard saying again and again to Zaccheaus, "All you do is make plays!! . . . All you do is make plays!!" Quite often in this one, there were defining moments. After scoring on its first four possessions of the second half, coach Gabe Infante's Hawks appeared -- repeat, appeared -- to be in command at 42-21 early in the fourth quarter. However, the Rams had the wind and DiNicci's arm in their favor and, well, here they came! Surrounding two three-and-outs by the Hawks, P-R scored at 8:05, 4:34 and 2:15 (13 total plays, 157 yards) to storm within 42-41. Though it still had two timeouts remaining, P-R went the show-brass route and opted to try for two points. Located on the right side of the Prep's defense was sr. OLB Shaun Harris. He dashed in untouched to DiNicci's blind side and almost brought him down right then and there. DiNicci spun away, but was still under pressure and the pass was whipped off target. P-R's onsides kick was mishandled by sr. RB James Bell, but Zaccheaus (surprise, surprise) had his teammate's back and made the recovery at the Prep's 49. Zaccheaus then lost a yard and P-R used timeout No. 2 at 2:05. Soph RB D'Andre Swift then picked up three yards and P-R used timeout No. 3 at 1:58. Next, Swift lined up in the wildhawk, took up the snap and zipped right up the middle for a 47-yard TD at 1:49. Sr. K Nick Bill added his seventh PAT and the Hawks were up by eight. After a 15-yard return placed the ball at the 26, the Rams needed to cover 74 yards. They ran off 10 plays -- four completions for 43 yards, four incompletions, one sack for a yard, one flushout for seven yards -- to advance the ball to the 25. You already know what happened next. If you saw that last play, and are a Prep loyalist, it's likely you'll never forget it. OK, it's now time to backtrack. The Prep's first-half scores went to Zaccheaus on a 56-yard screen pass from sr. QB Jack Clements (as the play began, a backup along the Prep's sideline correctly yelped, "We out!") and a 28-yard, over-the-middle flip to Bell (as that play ended, two P-R defenders were looking at each other with expressions that seemed to say, "I thought YOU had him.") Just four plays into the third quarter, D'Andre was his usual swifty self with a 58-yard run for a score. Somehow, Bill mishit the kickoff and it wound up having the look of an onsides. Not so. However . . . Bill scrambled straight ahead and saved himself major embarrassment by making the recovery. Then came the play of the night. The Prep opted for a screen left and set up a tremendous wall of blockers, the kind you'd see on a kickoff return. Swift was the receiver and had no trouble getting past everyone, despite a tight fit along the sideline, for a 49-yard TD. Six-plus minutes later, the Hawks added the next score on a 3-yard wildhawk run by Zaccheaus, thus seizing a 35-14 lead. P-R responded at 2:01 before the Hawks again expanded their edge to 21 points on Swift's 1-yard leap into the end zone shortly into the fourth quarter. The amazing stretch run has already been detailed. Shortly after beginning the drive back home, I called Huck, who'd watched the game on PCN. Knowing that Swift had finished with 22 carries for 220 yards (and three TDs), Huck had already done some research (smile). He found that Swift was the first Prep rusher to post at least 200 yards in 68 games. That performance (279 vs. Judge) was posted by soph Desmon Peoples in 2009. Later, he transferred to Wood and led that school to the 2011 Class AAA state title. Also, Swift's 22 carries marked the first time in 33 games that a Hawk had carried the ball at least 20 times. Swift also notched 56 receiving yards, so his scrimmage output was 278. Zaccheaus had three snags for 123 yards. For P-R, DiNicci went 33-for-47 for 385 yards and four TDs while adding 81 yards on the ground. He has great feet/presence and throws rockets out of a slinging delivery. Lots of fun to watch this guy! Sr. WR Michael Merhaut had 14 catches for 112 yards while jr. WR Anthony Battaglia added eight for 119. At safety, Merhaut was also quite the whirlwind on defense. Huck had him for 18 tackles (12 solos). In a 22-play sequence spanning the third and fourth quarters, he made 14 stops with 10 solos. For the Prep's defense: jr. LB Nick Vandevere had an interception along with 14 tackles (11 solos); sr. DL Jake Strain had nine and eight; Harris (sack), Zaccheaus (INT) and sr. CB Justin Montague all had seven and six; sr. DL Alec Dirks and sr. S Dillon DeIuliis made five stops apiece; and jr. DB Benny Walls recovered a fumble (as forced by sr. DB Thomas Johnson).
TITLE TIDBITS: Though Johnson, an inspirational leader, was able to make it back from injury to play in this one, star sr. WR-CB John Reid (knee) was not. He did suit up, however, and Infante acknowledged him very early in the post-game, goal-line session . . . P-R's band featured 259 members, according to one of its leaders, and I counted nine tubas . . . Athletic director Jim Murray said the Prep supplied two buses for fans. One left from the school, the other from the Plymouth Meeting Mall. There was a great turnout. Most kids got to Hershey on their own . . . P-R won the toss and opted to receive. Nice! These days, so many teams defer even when wind is not a factor . . . To perform website duties, I use two laptops. The one I use for uploading photos was acting up and causing major frustration. I then tried the other one and somehow deleted most of the game pics and ALL of the postgame pics. That happened at about 2 a.m. A million apologies. Lots of lensmen were there, however, including some with Prep ties, so hopefully I'll be able to link to someone else's photos and/or receive a few for posting on the Tribute Page. This wraps up season No. 44. Thanks for paying attention.