It was a different kind of week.
It was a familiar kind of game.
St. Joseph’s Prep wasn’t able to take the practice field until Friday night, when the Hawks held a walk-through workout. The rest of the week was all virtual for the state’s top football team, forced to stay connected through Zoom calls because of COVID-19 restrictions imposed as a precautionary measure by the school’s administration.
But things returned to normal Saturday, as senior quarterback Kyle McCord threw four touchdowns passes and senior Jeremiah Trotter Jr. returned an interception for another score in a 52-6 victory for St. Joseph’s Prep over Archbishop Wood at William Tennent.
“It was a definitely a challenge,” said Trotter, a Clemson recruit who raced 30 yards for a touchdown for the first pick-six of his scholastic career. “We did a lot of Zoom calls and watched a lot of film, but it was hard to get any physical reps. I felt like we were able to get that energy out today.”
McCord, an Ohio State recruit, was 12-for-23 passing for 234 yards and the four scores. McCord also generated the game’s first touchdown on a 1yard sneak as St. Joseph’s (3-0 overall, 2-0 in the Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division) clinched the District 12 berth to the PIAA Class 6A state tournament.
The two-time defending state champion Hawks will play Roman Catholic in a PCL game next Saturday, then have a bye before facing the District 1 champion in the state semifinals the weekend of Nov. 19.
“These guys did a great job of handling the week,” St. Joseph’s coach Tim Roken said. "They were able to rest legs and maybe get more of a mental focus.
“I think they are just grateful for the opportunity for them to play. You get thing taken away from you it’s hard, but this is a resilient group.”
Archbishop Wood (2-1 overall, 1-1 in the division) was limited by injuries to its defensive secondary. The Vikings also lost standout running back Kaelin Costello and quarterback Max Keller to injuries during the game.
“We’ll bounce back,” Archbishop Wood coach Matt Walp said. “They [St. Joseph’s]] are so well-coached and they have athletes across the board. You almost have to play a perfect game against them.”
For the second game in a row, St. Joseph’s Prep built a 38-0 halftime lead over a top PCL rival. On Oct. 17, the Hawks took that advantage at the break against La Salle.
In that game, McCord’s first pass was a 40-yard completion to Marvin Harrison Jr. On Saturday, McCord’s first pass was a 48-yard completion to Sahmir Hagans.
That led to a McCord sneak for a touchdown and set the tone for another first half filled with big plays. Temple recruit Malik Cooper caught a pair of touchdown passes, covering 55 and 8 yards,. and Harrison, an Ohio State recruit, grabbed a 14-yard touchdown pass.
“That’s the goal, coming out strong on the opening drive, and setting the pace for the rest of the game,” McCord said.
Trotter was part of a strong defensive effort that also featured his sophomore brother, Josiah, as well as senior lineman Nick Yagodich and senior safety Julian Talley. He said the Hawks are rounding into mid-season form.
“We’re getting to where we need to be as a team,” Trotter said.
St. Joseph’s Prep 17 21 7 7 -- 52
Archbishop Wood 0 0 0 6 -- 6
S: Kyle McCord 1 run (kick fail)
S: Malik Cooper 55 pass from McCord (Noble House run)
S: Antonio Chadha 32 FG
S: Marvin Harrison Jr. 14 pass from McCord (Chadha kick)
S: Jeremiah Trotter 30 interception return (Chadha kick)
S: Cooper 8 pass from McCord (Chadha kick)
S: Sahmir Hagans 10 pass from McCord (Chadha kick)
S: Blaine Bunch 4 run (Chadha kick)