Imhotep reaches state final
Win over Berks Catholic makes it the first Philadelphia public school to get to the title game.
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Imhotep Charter coach Albie Crosby already has a three-headed monster at the running-back position, and senior defensive back Deandre Scott also got in on the act when he scored on a 75-yard run on his only touch in Saturday's PIAA Class AA semifinal win.
Sophomore running back Tyliek Raynor restored a sense of order with the game's other two scores for the Panthers, who became the first Public League school to earn a berth in the state title game with a 20-0 victory against Berks Catholic in Shillington.
Imhotep will play South Fayette at noon Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium for the state championship.
Raynor is a quick-footed, jump-cutting back with the vision and speed to score from anywhere.
In fact, his 131 yards came on just four carries, two of which went for 49 and 38 yards.
For the season, junior Nasir Bonner (1,118) leads the team in rushing followed by sophomore Mike Waters (862). Raynor is No. 3 with 851 yards on 92 carries (9.25 average).
"He's real shifty and has great speed," Raynor said of Bonner. "And Mike is a downhill, power back with really good speed to be that big and still able to lower his shoulders."
Raynor, who got his start at the age of 5 with the West Oak Lane Wildcats, patterns some of his moves after the Eagles' LeSean McCoy.
"Just the way he makes people miss," Raynor said. "I like to make a lot of people miss because the object of football is to score so I try my best to get to the end zone as much as I can. But if I have to lower my shoulder, I surely will."
Bonner leads the squad with 14 rushing touchdowns. Waters and Raynor each have 13.
Without sharing totes, perhaps any of the three could put up bigger solo numbers. But, Raynor said their collective focus is elsewhere.
"We work very hard in practice together," he said. "In games we make sure nobody gets frustrated, and whoever gets the ball, we all cheer each other on."
Sometimes after practice, the group heads to Raynor's home on Ogontz Avenue in West Oak Lane, where he has a weight room in the basement of his mother's home.
Raynor describes himself as the quiet type. And, even though his feet are fleet on the field, they stay off the dance floor.
"No, I'm not much of a dancer," he said. "No, I really don't like to dance. That's just not me."
Waters and sophomore tight end/defensive end Nasir "Pop" Upshur are the rug-cutters on the squad, he said. If Imhotep beats South Fayette in the final, Raynor might change his tune. For now, though, he and his teammates are being rewarded for their summer efforts, which included SAT prep work in the morning followed by a helmets-only session and two full-contact meetings separated by lunch.
"It feels great," Raynor said of a title shot. "Ever since we started four-a-days, we've been hoping to win this thing. We've been working really hard and to get to this moment and to see that hard work pay off - it feels great."
Wood reaches final
Archbishop Wood returned to the Class AAA final with a 42-14 win against previously unblemished Berwick on Saturday in Allentown. Senior Luke Spahits scored twice on 75-yard kickoff returns and junior Jarrett McClenton added a 56-yard punt return that led to another score. The Vikings will face Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt at 7 p.m. Friday at Hershey Park Stadium for the AAA state title. They lost last year's final to Erie Cathedral Prep, 24-4.