St. Joseph’s Prep earned payback in dominant, no-doubt-about-it fashion.
After losing to Pine-Richland in last year’s snowy PIAA Class 6A state football final, the Hawks quickly and easily dashed the Rams’ bid for a repeat title.
Moving closer to its fourth crown in six seasons, the Prep whipped the District 7 champs, 37-0, in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal playoff at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.
Sophomore Kyle McCord, continuing his rapid and eye-catching progression at quarterback, connected on 21 of 30 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns.
McCord’s scoring throws went to Marques Mason (42 yards), Anthony Rightley (9), and Tyriq Jones-Garland (9).
Mason’s catch, Kolbe Burrell’s rushing scores of 3 and 2 yards, and Antonio Chadha’s 33-yard field goal gave the Hawks a 23-0 halftime advantage.
The Prep (12-0) will face District 3’s Harrisburg (13-1) for Class 6A top honors at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Reversing a 37-6 loss to Coatesville in the season opener, Harrisburg advanced with a 27-24 upset of the District 1 titlists in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Breaking free for a 65-yard gain in the late going against Pine-Richland, Burrell finished with 88 yards on 19 attempts. Mason chipped in 43 yards on 12 attempts.
McCord has thrown for 2,600 yards and 33 touchdowns this season. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder already has scholarship offers from Arizona, Boston College, Michigan, and Penn State, among others.
Against the Rams, McCord’s primary targets were Mason (five catches for 64 yards), Johnny Freeman (five for 96), and Marvin Harrison (four for 79).
The Hawks limited Pine-Richland (11-3) to 117 yards rushing on 37 tries. Sophomore quarterback Cole Spencer converted only six of 24 passes for 38 yards.
The Prep’s linebacking corps turned in another solid performance. Cooper Kim (11 tackles, nine solos), Liam Johnson (11, eight), and Jeremiah Trotter (10, seven) combined for 32 stops.
Johnson and Myles Talley, the squad’s other linebacker, each recorded sacks. Cornerback Zach Bouggess and strong safety Nicolas Rios both made interceptions.
The Hawks won back-to-back state crowns in 2013 and 2014 and earned their third in 2016.
St. Joseph’s Prep 6 17 7 7 - 37
Pine-Richland 0 0 0 0 - 0
SJP: Marques Mason 42 pass from Kyle McCord (kick blocked)
SJP: Kolbe Burrell 3 run (Antonio Chadha kick)
SJP: Burrell 2 run (Chadha kick)
SJP: FG Chadha 33
SJP: Anthony Rightley 9 pass from McCord (Chadha kick)
SJP: Tyriq Jones-Garland 9 pass from McCord (Chadha kick)