HERSHEY, Pa. - With South Fayette in the background celebrating a surprising rout and its first PIAA Class AA state football championship, Albie Crosby did his best to console Imhotep Charter's teary-eyed players.
"Guys, keep your heads up," the coach said after the Panthers' 41-0 loss Sunday afternoon at Hersheypark Stadium. "I want you to embrace this moment. Enjoy this moment."
Crosby was talking about Imhotep's becoming the first team from the Public League, which joined the PIAA in 2004, to play for a state title.
Many had expected Imhotep, because of its overall athleticism and up-front size, to hand South Fayette its first loss of the season. Instead, the Lions (16-0) dominated.
"We put that in the back of our minds that people were doubting us," South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh said. "People can say all they want, but they can't measure how hard we practice or how well we play."
South Fayette, of suburban Pittsburgh, exploded for five first-half touchdowns. Because of the mercy rule, that brought about a running clock in the second half.
"I think they just hit on all cylinders, and we missed on all cylinders," Crosby said. "I just applaud South Fayette. My hat's off to them."
With ample time to throw, Brumbaugh, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior with scholarship offers from Akron and Temple, completed 18 of 25 passes for 299 yards and three first-half touchdowns. He was 16 for 23 for 270 yards before intermission.
"We have a great quarterback," Lions coach Joe Rossi said. "He runs our offense well, doesn't get rattled. He did the same things he's been doing all season."
Brumbaugh connected with Justin Watson, a 6-3, 185-pound wideout and Penn recruit, for scores of 6 and 64 yards. He also threw a 53-yard strike to wide-open tight end Logan Sharp.
"They played well, including their quarterback," Crosby said. "I just have to give it to them. They were in a zone. They were amazing."
In the last minute of the second quarter, J.J. Walker's 4-yard run and Conner Beck's 46-yard interception return gave the District 7 champions a 35-0 advantage.
In the opening 24 minutes, Imhotep (12-3) was held to 50 yards rushing on 21 attempts. It was penalized 12 times for 47 yards, including multiple offside violations.
"If we had an opportunity to play them again, I don't know what the outcome would be," Crosby said. "But today the outcome was that they were 41 points better than us."
For the Panthers, Andre Dreuitt-Parks hit on 8 of 18 throws for 125 yards. Lineman Tyrone Barge and linebacker Steve Denby each made six solo tackles.
Imhotep Charter 0 0 0 0 - 0
South Fayette 14 21 0 6 - 41
SF: Justin Watson 6 pass from Brett Bambaugh (Brian Coyne kick)
SF: Logan Sharp 53 pass from Brumbaugh (Coyne kick)
SF: Watson 64 pass from Brumbaugh (Coyne kick)
SF: J.J. Walker 4 run (Coyne kick)
SF: Conner Beck 45 interception return (Coyne kick)