A CLOSER LOOK: ST. JOE'S PREP VS. PITTSBURGH CENTRAL CATHOLIC
St. Joseph's Prep, in its sixth year in the PIAA, is in position to claim its first state championship.
To make history, the Hawks will have to derail a Pittsburgh Central Catholic squad which is undefeated and has outscored foes by a combined 657-82.
Here is a closer look at Saturday's 6 p.m. final at HersheyPark Stadium.
Twitter. Follow @ozoneinq for updates.$TV. Live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
Coaches. In four years at the Prep, Gabe Infante has compiled a 32-15 record (.681 winning percentage); Terry Totten is 97-13 (.882) in nine seasons at Central Catholic.
Projected starters. Go to philly.com/ozone.
History. Central Catholic leads the head-to-head series, 1-0. In the 2004 opener for both teams, the Vikings triumphed, 38-12, at Gateway.
Ranking. The Hawks (11-3) are ranked No. 2 in the state in Class AAAA by The Inquirer; the Vikings (15-0) are No. 1.
About Central Catholic. The Vikings are trying for their first state title since 2007 and fourth overall. They also won in 1988, 2004, and 2007. ... This year's team has won by an average margin of 38.3 points. ... A pro-style, run-heavy offense is headed by running backs Luigi Lista-Brinza (220 carries for 1,604 yards and 21 touchdowns) and Riley Redman (115 for 1,136, 16). ... Senior quarterback J.J. Cosentino has completed 40 of 86 passes for 766 yards and 12 scores, with three interceptions. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior has committed to play at Florida State ... Senior wideout Shafer Swann (11 catches for 353 yards and four TDs) is the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers great Lynn Swann. ... The Vikings' vaunted defense has yielded an average of 5.5 points, 49 yards rushing and 78 passing per game. A unit that has pitched seven shutouts is spearheaded by linebacker Niko Thorpe and ends Angelo Natter and Zach DeLuca. The 5-11, 220-pound Thorpe has offers from Stony Brook and Lafayette.
About the Prep. The Hawks have won four playoff games by a combined score of 143-82. ... Since returning from a left-knee injury that sidelined him for two games, Chris Martin has connected on 24 of 42 passes for 479 yards and four scores. Overall, the 5-10, 185-pound senior has hit on 141 of 223 throws for 2,066 yards and 26 TDs. ... The top ballcarriers in a hurry-up, spread attack are Olamide Zaccheaus, D'Andre Swift and Vince Moffett. ... The receiving threats are Swift, handyman John Reid and wideout Jawan McAllister. ... A 4-3 defense is led by ends Jake Strain and Joe DuMond, linebackers Ryan McNulty and Tom Johnson, cornerback Reid, and safeties Moffett and Dillon DeIuliis. Johnson, who missed the early part of the season with a left-foot injury, notched nine tackles, including seven solos, in last week's 37-21 win over Neshaminy. ... Pat Walsh has nailed 67 extra-point kicks and drilled two field goals. He also does the punting.
Analysis. We think the Vikings, with an advantage along the line of scrimmage and continued rushing success, thwart the Prep's title bid.
Pick. Central Catholic, 34-21.