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Cardinal O’Hara to take third crack at beating vaunted Imhotep Charter in PIAA District 12 football championship

The injury depleted Lions will try to stun the heavily favored Panthers in the PIAA District 12 Class 4A final.

Cardinal O'Hara senior quarterback Luke Sprague (14) has thrown for 811 yards and seven touchdowns.
Cardinal O'Hara senior quarterback Luke Sprague (14) has thrown for 811 yards and seven touchdowns.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Cardinal O'Hara coach B.J. Hogan fully realizes the challenge his team is facing against speedy and talented Imhotep Charter.

"They have a lot of offensive weapons," he said. "You can't focus on stopping one or two guys. They have several players who can burn you on any play."

O'Hara and Imhotep will square off for the PIAA District 12 Class 4A title at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Benjamin L. Johnston Memorial Stadium.

The Panthers defeated the Lions for top district honors in each of the last two seasons, winning by 40-7 last year and 36-6 in 2016.

Imhotep is sparked on offense by Tykee Smith, a 5-11, 190-pound halfback and West Virginia recruit.

Smith is supported by fellow running backs Symear Williams and Saint McLeod, quarterback Jalen Sutton-Christian, and wideouts Yusuf Terry (Baylor), Karam Cummings, and D'Shaun Seals.

The Panthers, who average 31.2 points per game are led up front by center Marlon Westcott (6-2, 305), right tackle John Whitehead (6-6, 320), and left guard Lamar Johnson (5-11, 300).

Offensively, O'Hara is ignited by running back Quasir Cottman, QB Luke Sprague, handyman Chris Kirby, and wide receivers Max Much and Cole Sprague.

Luke Sprague has connected on 84 of 154 passes for 811 yards and seven touchdowns. Cottman has carried 140 times for 510 yards and five scores.

The Lions were hurt by season-ending injuries to running backs Keed Kpoto (shoulder) and Hunter Whitlock (knee).

Kpoto rushed for nearly 800 yards and eight TDs before being sidelined in a 28-6 win over Catholic League Blue Division rival Neumann-Goretti on Oct. 13.

O'Hara's offensive line is anchored by left tackle Louie Perry (6-3, 290), a first-team all-Catholic selection, center Ryan Culp (5-10, 180), and right tackle Joe Kelly (6-3, 230).

"Hopefully, we're able to control the ball on offense, play good defense, and be right with them at the end," Hogan said. "We'll see what happens."

Inside the Game

Cardinal O'Hara (7-3) at Imhotep Charter (8-2), Friday at 7 p.m.

On a roll: Imhotep has won seven straight games since back-to-back losses against St. Joseph Regional (N.J.) and DeMatha Catholic (Md.).

Stopping the run. O'Hara's defensive line is headed by tackles Perri and John Caponi.

Stalwarts. The Panthers defense is spearheaded by ends Zymir Cobbs and Shaun Small, linebackers Williams and McLeod, and backs Tykee Smith and Shafeek Smith.

Supporting cast. Perri and Caponi are aided on defense by Much, a free safety, linebacker Chris Sheffer, and cornerback Cole Sprague (five interceptions).

Prediction: Imhotep, 36-14.