Riding a 10-game win streak, La Salle is on the doorstep of its and District 12's first state football championship. State College, too, finds itself in similar territory with the chance to make history for the program and Centre County.
Here is a closer look at the PIAA Class AAAA final that pits 13-1 La Salle, ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, against 12-2 State College at HersheyPark Stadium at 7 p.m. tomorrow:
Coaches. In four seasons at La Salle, head coach Drew Gordon is 37-13. Al Wolski is 58-19 in six years at State College. Wolski, a Phoenixville High graduate, was also head coach at Troy (Pa.) and Deerfield (Fla.).
Ground game. Sparking the Little Lions' spread-option offense, Alex Kenney, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior tailback, has carried 146 times for 1,153 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has caught 24 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns.
Balanced. La Salle QB Drew Loughery has passed for nearly 5,000 yards and 48 TDs while leading the Explorers to a 22-5 record over the last two seasons. But State College also has to guard against the Explorers' run game. Tailback Jamal Abdur-Rahman and fullback Tim Wade have combined for 1,800 rushing yards.
Wolski compared La Salle to state-quarterfinal foe Bishop McDevitt, of District 3. And not just because La Salle and McDevitt wear same-colored uniforms. "They have the size of McDevitt's offensive line and aggressive linebackers," the coach said.
Wildcat. In their last two wins, the Explorers have used Sam Feleccia, normally a wideout, in the Wildcat formation. The 6-3, 225-pounder has carried 12 times for 65 yards.
Switching it up. Look for State College to rotate QBs, using both Dom Mills and Matt Mazzara.
Except for being the holder on point-after kicks, Mazzara was held out of last week's 35-13 win over Cumberland Valley with what Wolski said was an "arm or shoulder" injury.
Stout. The Little Lions' 4-4 defense is led by cornerback Kenney, free safety Mills, 6-1, 225-pound end/tackle Shawn McQuarter, and inside linebacker Brad Holzwarth. Kenney has a Centre County-record 12 interceptions this season.
Analysis. Stopping the run is key for La Salle. The Explorers' run defense has struggled at times this year but has peaked in recent weeks, when it counts most. That, along with a pair of Loughery TD passes, spells a historic win for Gordon's squad.
Pick: La Salle, 28-13.