Season in review: Imhotep is team of the year
There have been some dominant and talent-filled area football teams in this millennium. Neshaminy (2001) and North Penn (2003) both went 15-0 and won PIAA Class 4A state titles; Archbishop Wood's 2011 and 2013 squads impressed greatly while taking home 3A crowns; and the St. Joseph's Prep's team that earned 4A glory in 2014, even with three early losses against national powers, is also in the mix.
There have been some dominant and talent-filled area football teams in this millennium.
Neshaminy (2001) and North Penn (2003) both went 15-0 and won PIAA Class 4A state titles; Archbishop Wood's 2011 and 2013 squads impressed greatly while taking home 3A crowns; and the St. Joseph's Prep's team that earned 4A glory in 2014, even with three early losses against national powers, is also in the mix.
Now, Imhotep Charter, which nine days ago capped a 15-0 campaign with a 40-3 whipping of District 10's Erie Cathedral Prep in the Class 3A final, has to be in the discussion when it comes to talk of the best of the best in the 21st century.
Granted, Imhotep's schedule before meeting Wood for top District 12 honors, particularly in eight Public League regular-season and playoff contests, was far from rigorous.
But the Panthers fought past another imposing Wood group; dismantled Academy Park (46-16) and Saucon Valley (72-27) in the next two rounds; and, despite coughing the ball up three times in the first quarter, breezed past Cathedral Prep to collect their first state trophy.
Six Imhotep players - Mike Waters, Naseir Upshur, Yasir Durant, JohnCarlo Valentin, Andre Mintze, and Shaka Toney - were selected to the Class 3A all-state team by Pennsylvania football writers. Albie Crosby, who is 53-6 (.898 winning percentage) in four seasons at 21st and Godfrey, was named 3A coach of the year.
For becoming the first public school from Philadelphia to win a state football crown, Imhotep is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania football team of the year.
Coach of the year. Bret Stover guided Upper Dublin, his alma mater, to a 14-1 record, its second straight Suburban One League American Conference title, and its first District 1 Class 4A championship.
After advancing to the district semis last season, the Cardinals took two more huge steps by winning the tourney with a 46-21 romp over six-time victor North Penn.
Stover, a quarterback at Upper Dublin and Millersville in the 1980s, is 87-52 (.626) in 13 seasons.
Best game. On Thanksgiving Day, with the Central League title at stake, Haverford High outlasted Upper Darby, 49-42, in a thriller at A.G. Cornog Field.
On a QB draw with 19 seconds to go, Jack Donaghy's 19-yard run lifted the Fords to their first title since 1995. Behind by 35-14, the Royals, who fell short of their first championship since 1967, rallied with four straight TDs to briefly go in front, 42-35.
Rookie of the year. Sophomore defensive end Chris Maloney was a consistent playmaker in La Salle's run to the Catholic League title. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder notched six sacks while earning first-team all-Catholic 4A honors.
Stepping down. Two successful coaches, Ridley's Dennis Decker and Perkiomen Valley's Scott Reed, are resigning for personal reasons.
In seven seasons, Decker compiled a 74-24 mark and won a district championship in 2009. Reed went 82-53 and earned two Pioneer Athletic Conference crowns in 12 years. He guided the Vikings to a 10-2 mark and the district quarterfinals this season.