St. Joseph’s Prep ran 13 offensive plays in the second half of Saturday night’s statement victory over archrival La Salle.
All 13 were rushing attempts between the tackles.
It was a classy move by Hawks head coach Tim Roken and his staff in dialing down the pace after taking a 38-0 lead in the clash of Philadelphia Catholic League teams at Cardinal O’Hara.
Roken mentioned the Sept. 4 death of La Salle senior lineman Isaiah Turner in his postgame comments. Roken and several of his seniors attended Turner’s funeral services on La Salle’s campus on Sept. 11.
“Obviously, they’ve had a tough year right from the jump," Roken said. “Our hearts are with them, throughout. They are so well coached we know against them we have to come out and give our best effort.”
St. Joseph’s Prep ran a clinic in the first half, scoring five touchdowns and a field goal on six possessions. Senior quarterback Kyle McCord passed for 235 yards and senior running back Noble House scored three touchdowns as the Hawks seized irrefutable command against one of the better teams in the state.
It was further evidence of the current gap between St. Joseph’s Prep and the rest of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The win was the Hawks' 31st in a row against Catholic League opponents since the start of the 2016 season.
But after building a 38-0 lead at halftime, the Hawks were in position to drive home their dominance. With the season shortened by the coronavirus outbreak, the argument could have been made to allow McCord and playmakers such Malik Cooper and Sahmir Hagans to take a few more shots down the field in the third quarter.
But the Hawks shut it down. It was all inside running plays on offense. And it was a lot of substitutes on defense, as La Salle scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the final score 38-14.
Hats off the Hawks for sportsmanship.
Here’s the first Southeastern Pennsylvania football Top 10 of the long-delayed season:
1. St. Joseph’s Prep (2-0): The Hawks got strong work from the offensive line, tough running from House and junior Blaine Bunch, and more mastery from McCord, who set the tone with three completions for 65 yards in the game’s first minute. The Prep will face Bishop Sycamore of Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, ahead of an Oct. 31 date with Archbishop Wood.
2. Pennridge (3-0): The Rams have outscored opponents by 107-14, including a 72-0 mark the last two weeks. Linebacker Shane Hartzell, a Villanova recruit, leads a defensive front seven that has been dominant. Lineman Jake Tarburton had three sacks Saturday in a 42-0 win over Central Bucks East.
3. La Salle (3-1): Don’t let Saturday night’s score obscure this: The Explorers are a top team, one of the best in the state. Downingtown East coach Mike Matta, who has been through big-time battles in the Ches-Mont League for nearly two decades, called La Salle one of the “most physical teams” his squad has ever played. It was easy to miss, but Explorers linebacker Christopher Thompson was terrific against the Prep.
4. Archbishop Wood (1-0): The reigning PIAA Class 5A champions, who have bumped up to Class 6A this year, opened the season Saturday night with a 35-14 win over Catholic League foe Bishop McDevitt. Senior quarterback Max Keller was 13-for-18 for 201 yards and two touchdowns, and senior Kaelin Costello ran for 127 yards and a score. Senior linebacker Shane Collier made the game’s biggest defensive play with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown.
5. Coatesville (2-0): Sophomore quarterback Harrison Susi ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns as the Red Raiders beat Downingtown West, 22-14, in a rematch of the 2019 District 1 Class 6A title game won by the Whippets. Senior Jake Walton leads a powerful offensive line for Coatesville, which will host Downingtown East this weekend in a game with huge implications in the sprint for a berth in the four-team district tournament.
6. Malvern Prep (0-0): The Friars will open the season Saturday at home vs. Salesianum of Wilmington. Malvern Prep will be led by senior all-purpose player Lonnie White Jr., a Penn State recruit, as well as senior two-way back Stephen Rose Jr., a Delaware recruit, and senior two-way lineman Christian Curatolo, a Lehigh recruit.
7. Downingtown East (1-1): Junior Josh Avante ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-0 win over Avon Grove. Downingtown East ran for 384 yards behind its powerful offensive line in a tune-up for this weekend’s clash with Ches-Mont rival Coatesville.
8. Neumann Goretti (0-0): The Saints won’t play their first game until Oct. 31, as three students who were not members of the football team were reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus. Neumann Goretti was supposed to play Catholic League foe Archbishop Carroll this Saturday to determine District 12′s representative in the PIAA Class 3A tournament.
9. Souderton (3-0): Quarterback Evan Kutzler ran for one score and passed for another in a 28-7 win over Upper Dublin. The Big Red have only Hatboro-Horsham (0-3) and Bensalem (0-3) on the schedule before the District 1 Class 6A playoff cutoff.
10. Bonner-Prendergast (1-0): James Welde caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown and the defense registered five sacks as the Friars opened the season with a 21-0 win over Roman Catholic.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Abington (2-0), Archbishop Carroll (1-0), Downingtown West (0-1), Episcopal Academy (0-0), Garnet Valley (0-0), Germantown Academy (0-0), Neshaminy (1-1), North Penn (2-1), Spring-Ford (4-0).
Not playing but not forgotten: Cheltenham, Imhotep Charter, Northeast.