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St. Joseph’s Prep will open its football season Saturday in Maryland

The Hawks, two-time reigning PIAA Class 6A state champions who are ranked No. 6 in the nation by High School Football America, will meet Life Christian Academy of Virginia.

St. Joseph's Prep won its second straight PIAA Class 6A state title with a victory over Central Dauphin on Dec. 7, 2019 at HersheyPark Stadium.
St. Joseph's Prep won its second straight PIAA Class 6A state title with a victory over Central Dauphin on Dec. 7, 2019 at HersheyPark Stadium.Read moreBob Williams For The inquirer

St. Joseph’s Prep, the consensus No. 1 high school football team in Pennsylvania, finally will take the field for a game Saturday night in Maryland.

St. Joseph’s Prep, the two-time reigning PIAA Class 6A state champions and winners of five state titles in the last seven seasons, will face Life Christian Academy (Va.) at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Md. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“It’s been a roller coaster last couple months and particular weeks,” St. Joseph’s Prep coach Tim Roken said before practice Monday at Brady Field in North Philadelphia. “Our coaches and players have taken the approach that we’re going to be as ready we can be.”

Life Christian Academy is an independent program that plays a national schedule. The Eagles have a 1-2 record, with losses to IMG Academy of Bradenton, Fla. and Pulaski Academy of Little Rock, Ark., and a victory over Steele of Cibolo, Texas.

St. Joseph’s Prep is scheduled to play five games in a coronavirus-shortened regular season. The Hawks also will play Philadelphia Catholic League opponents La Salle, Archbishop Wood and Roman Catholic as well as Bishop Sycamore of Columbus, Ohio.

Meanwhile, reigning PIAA Class 5A state champion Archbishop Wood will open its season Oct. 17 vs. fellow Philadelphia Catholic League program Bishop McDevitt, per Vikings coach Matt Walp.

Archbishop Wood, which has bumped up to Class 6A this year, also will play Catholic League games vs. Roman Catholic, St. Joseph’s Prep and La Salle in an abbreviated regular season.

The district and/or state playoffs are expected to start the weekend of Nov. 13-14, although the PIAA has yet to finalize plans for how many teams might qualify for the state playoffs in each classification. The state finals in the six classifications are set for Nov. 27-28 at HersheyPark Stadium.

St. Joseph’s Prep enters the season on an 11-game winning streak. The Hawks, who are ranked No. 6 in the country in the first High School Football America 100, will be led by seniors such as quarterback Kyle McCord and wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., a pair of Ohio State recruits, and linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr., a Clemson recruit.

Other top seniors for the Hawks include all-purpose standouts Malik Cooper, a Temple recruit, and Sahmir Hagans, a Duke recruit, as well as defensive back Julian Talley, a Penn recruit.

Junior defensive back Keenan Nelson Jr. also is a highly touted player for the Hawks. Nelson is rated as a four-star recruit by with scholarship offers from Penn State, Georgia, Notre Dame and Miami, among other programs.

“We are confident that we can compete in a safe manner, following all of the required protocols,” St. Joseph’s Prep athletic director Dan DiBernardinis said. “We strongly desire to give our student-athletes the opportunity to compete, which we believe is important for their physical and emotional development. At the same time, we know how important it is for many of our student-athletes to accumulate film for college scholarships, etc.”

Here is the St. Joseph’s Prep schedule:

Oct. 10: Life Christian Academy of Chester, Va., at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Md., 7 p.m.

Oct. 17: La Salle at Bensalem High School, 7 p.m. (Senior Night)

Oct. 24: Bishop Sycamore of Columbus, Ohio, at TBA, 7 p.m.

Oct. 31: Archbishop Wood at William Tennent High School, 7 p.m.

Nov. 7: Roman Catholic, TBA.

Here is Archbishop Wood’s schedule:

Oct. 17: Bishop McDevitt at William Tennent, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24: Roman Catholic at William Tennent, 7 p.m.

Oct. 31: St. Joseph’s Prep at William Tennent, 7 p.m.

Nov. 7: La Salle, TBA.