Swift is ready to carry the ball for St. Joseph's Prep vs. North Penn
Perhaps the intervention was divine. It certainly wasn't Gabe Infante's plan, but an unintended benefit of an early-season injury to St. Joseph's Prep running back D'Andre Swift might be paying dividends.
Perhaps the intervention was divine.
It certainly wasn't Gabe Infante's plan, but an unintended benefit of an early-season injury to St. Joseph's Prep running back D'Andre Swift might be paying dividends.
Swift, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior and Georgia recruit, missed the bulk of six games earlier this season, but he appears to be fresh as the Hawks (12-0) head into a PIAA semifinal against District 1 champion North Penn (14-0) at 5 p.m. Saturday at Northeast High.
"I've told my coaches that if it works out the right way, what a master plan by God, right?" Infante said. "He rested five and a half weeks and didn't take all the additional hits, and if he comes back down the stretch, I mean, what's better than that? What's better than having that dude, minus five games of hits and carries?"
Spry and sprightly, Swift rushed for 318 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries (17.6 per attempt) in a 38-17 victory against Parkland on Saturday. The single-game school record is 322, set by Kyle Ambrogi in 2000.
Swift, who suffered an ankle injury Sept. 10 against Don Bosco, aggravated the injury early in the Hawks' Sept. 16 game against Archbishop Wood, which was televised on ESPNU.
He didn't play the following week, and played only sparingly in the Prep's next two games. When he returned Oct. 22 against La Salle, Swift gouged the Explorers for 275 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns. He sat out again the following week against Archbishop Ryan.
In addition to the current bounce in Swift's step, another benefit has been the emergence of other members of the Hawks offense.
Senior running back Christian Waller, who is injured and will not play Saturday, averaged 107 rushing yards in four of the Prep's largely Swift-less games.
Junior quarterback Marquez McCray threw for seven touchdowns during that same span, while senior wide receiver Terrance Greene added four touchdown receptions.
"The reality is, I love when people like to zero in on [Swift]," said Infante, who also touted the contributions of junior wideout Darryle Simmons and senior running back Khari Jones.
On defense, Infante praised the play of his defensive line, a group that consists of seniors Jake Ballard and Chris Lowndes and juniors Ryan Bryce and Rayshad Wallace. Juniors Jake Feehery and Paul Hess, as well as freshmen Matt McGeary and Casey Stephenson, are also in the rotation.
"We're not the biggest guys up front, but they've handled all kinds of challenges," Infante said. "When I think of the amount of scheme that we've seen this year, it's the widest spectrum of scheme that I've seen an up-front [group] have to defense."
The Hawks will be challenged again by a North Penn offense that has averaged 41 points per game this season.
"Offensively, they're a more balanced team than I've seen them in the past," Infante said.
Later, he added: "That's the part of their offense that concerns me.
"Defensively, they're tough kids. I like their physicality. Maybe not the biggest kids, but they're all mobile, physical, smart players, and sometimes that's a problem. There are really no weak spots."