St. Joseph’s Prep and Downingtown West are one step away from the state finals.
They also are one step away from a showdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10.
St. Joseph’s Prep, the reigning PIAA Class 6A champion, beat Nazareth 45-24 on Friday night to extend its winning streak to nine and advance to the state semifinals. The Hawks are set to meet District 7 champ Central Catholic this weekend with the chance to advance to the Dec. 7 state title game in Hershey.
Downingtown West won its first District 1 title since 1996 on Friday night with a 48-36 victory over two-time champion Coatesville. The Whippets will face District 3 champion Central Dauphin this Friday night at Coatesville for the right to play in the state championship game.
Victories by the Hawks and Whippets would set up a clash of Philadelphia-area powerhouse teams for both the state title and the No. 1 spot in the rankings.
Here’s the new Top 10, with last week’s ranking in parentheses:
1. St. Joseph’s Prep (1) 10-2: The Hawks won their second in a row without junior quarterback Kyle McCord, an Ohio State recruit who has been sidelined with a knee injury. Junior all-purpose Sahmir Hagans returned two punts for touchdowns – his second and third return scores in the last two games – and Anthony Rightley took a fumble to the house in the win over Nazareth. The Prep has scored 42 or more in every game in the nine-game winning streak.
2. Downingtown West (2) 13-1: Senior quarterback Will Howard, a Kansas State recruit, took his game to another level in crunch time vs. Coatesville. Howard was 9-for-10 passing for 180 yards, threw a 37-yard scoring strike to Julian Williams, and ran and pitched for key first downs as the Whippets re-took command when the Red Raiders ignited their crowd with a second-half rally. Senior all-purpose Alex Rosano might have played the game of his career, too, with nine catches – including a clutch one-handed snag – for 117 yards and a 27-yard interception return for touchdown.
3. Coatesville (3) 10-3: Seniors Ricky Ortega and Dapree Bryant went out on their shields. Ortega ran for a score and threw for 345 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Downingtown West. He finished his career with 127 touchdown passes. Bryant caught scoring passes of 70 and 59 yards. He finished his career as the most productive receiver in Philadelphia-area (Southeastern Pa. and South Jersey) history with the career records for catches (197), yards (3,749) and touchdowns (56).
4. Archbishop Wood (6) 9-3: Juniors Shane Collier and Kaelin Costello each ran for two touchdowns as the Vikings rolled to a 41-7 victory over Southern Lehigh in the Class 5A quarterfinals. Collier led the defense with 14 tackles. Archbishop Wood, which has won five in a row, meets District 7 champion Gateway in this weekend’s state semifinals.
5. Episcopal Academy (4) 9-1: Senior Matt Bush ran for 494 yards and led the defense with 77 tackles for the Churchmen, who have finished their season.
6. Northeast (5) 11-2: Junior Tyreek Chappell has 20 catches for 553 yards (27.7-yard average) and seven touchdowns and senior Tyrece Mills has eight interceptions for the Vikings. Northeast closes its season Thanksgiving morning against old rival Central.
7. Imhotep Charter (7) 8-5: Kenyatta Kirkland ran for three touchdowns but the Panthers dropped a 43-36 decision to undefeated Dallas in the Class 4A state quarterfinals. Imhotep Charter went 8-2 in its final 10 games, with the two losses by a combined nine points to teams (Dallas and Northeast) with a combined 24-2 record.
8. Garnet Valley (8) 11-2: The Jaguars rushed for 66 touchdowns this season, an average of five per game. The trio of Greg Reynolds (17), Jake Morin (14) and Ryan Gallagher (13) combined for 44 rushing touchdowns. Reynolds led in rushing yards with 1,010.
9. Haverford (9) 10-3: Trey Blair has rushed for 1,934 yards (12.4-yards per carry) and 27 touchdowns and passed for 1,106 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Fords, who finish the season vs. Upper Darby in a renewal of a rich Thanksgiving Day rivalry.
10. Cheltenham (10) 13-1: The thrills keep coming for the Panthers, who won a wild game vs. Academy Park by a 43-42 score in the District 1 Class 5A final. Senior quarterback Adonis Hunter ran for three touchdowns as Cheltenham won its 11th game in a row and extended its school record for victories in a season. The Panthers meet District 3 champion Cocalico this weekend in the Class 5A state semifinals.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Academy Park (10-3), Bonner-Prendergast (9-2), Central Bucks West (10-2), Downingtown East (9-2), Germantown Academy (7-2), La Salle (8-3), Neumann-Goretti (11-1), North Penn (8-4), Plymouth-Whitemarsh (9-2), Pope John Paul II (10-3), West Chester East (9-3), West Chester Rustin (9-4).