Noble House trained all summer to be a key receiver for the St. Joseph’s Prep football team.

So it was only fitting that he made the most memorable grab of his career on the night the Hawks defeated Philadelphia Catholic League rival La Salle, Oct. 17.

The twist in this tale of an athlete’s patience and perseverance is that House’s catch came after the contest, when he snagged the game ball tossed his way by coach Tim Roken.

“That’s a moment I’ll remember forever,” House said of teammates' surrounding him in celebration after Roken singled out the senior’s contribution to the 38-14 win at Cardinal O’Hara.

Noble House (21) of St. Joseph's Prep was swarmed by teammates after being presented the game ball following the Hawks' 38-14 victory over La Salle on Oct. 17.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Noble House (21) of St. Joseph's Prep was swarmed by teammates after being presented the game ball following the Hawks' 38-14 victory over La Salle on Oct. 17.

Roken designated House as the team’s first star in the signature victory in part because the 5-foot-10, 180-pound athlete scored three touchdowns, all in the first half, all on bruising, 1-yard runs.

But perhaps the real reason House was honored was his quiet dedication. He waited three years to make an impact for the state’s top program, biding his time by working on his game and preparing for his opportunity.

"I just looked at it like, ‘My time is coming,’ " House said. "The previous years were definitely a little frustrating. But I was patient. I watched the people who graduated. They led the way.

“I was always working, and the coaches always had my back.”

House, who lives in Lansdale, was struck by the fact that his breakthrough performance came at running back, a position he hadn’t played much since his sophomore season on the junior varsity.

“I came in as a running back,” House said. "Last year, they switched me to slot. I played slot all season and got adjusted to that. I worked all summer at wide receiver. But I love running back.”

St. Joseph’s Prep (2-0), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10, is scheduled to play No. 4 Archbishop Wood on Saturday at William Tennent in a Philadelphia Catholic League game that likely will decide the District 12 representative in the PIAA Class 6A tournament.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be able to play,” House said. “A lot of teams can’t even play this season, so I’m feeling blessed just to be able to strap it up with my brothers.”

House caught 10 passes as a junior for 104 yards, with one touchdown. He was slated to play in the slot this season, although opportunities might have been limited in a receiving corps that includes seniors such as Ohio State recruit Marvin Harrison Jr., Temple recruit Malik Cooper, and Duke recruit Sahmir Hagans.

But an injury to running back Josh Barlow led the Hawks coaches to move House to the backfield. He has responded with the most productive play of his career.

He ran for a touchdown in the season opener vs. Life Christian Academy. And in the win over La Salle, House found the end zone three times in the game’s first 20 minutes.

“He’s been a young man who over the last four years has been back and forth — running back, receiver, running back, receiver,” Roken said. “We’ve moved him around and Josh went down and we needed him to fill in. He had some tough runs to get in the end zone, and that’s what you look for."

House’s play this season has been marked by sturdy inside running, ball security, and a knack for the end zone. He hasn’t broken any long, dazzling carries or juked a lot of defenders. But he’s been dependable and responsible, covering the football with two arms in traffic and taking the team lead in scoring with four touchdowns.

“Noble is one of the hardest workers on the team, and sometimes his effort can go unnoticed,” said St. Joseph’s Prep quarterback Kyle McCord, an Ohio State recruit. “I’m happy he’s finally getting the credit that he deserves. He is by far one of the most underrated players in the state.”