St. Joe's Prep ousts Parkland
Before Saturday afternoon's state quarterfinal game against St. Joseph's Prep, head coach Jim Morgans wanted his team to reach that next step in the PIAA tournament. In 2012, the Trojans were beaten by LaSalle College High School, another Philadelphia Catholic League team, in the same round.
But a slow start did not give Parkland (12-2 overall) much of a chance, as the Trojans fell to the Hawks 21-10 at Bethlehem Area School District stadium.
It was a tough way to end a successful season, as the Trojans' 11-game win streak was snapped in the same position it was a year ago, and because of similar actions throughout the game.
"It was the same thing as last year, it was field position," Morgans said. "We played the whole first half over here [in our end]. I'm proud of our kids. I thought they did a great job. It would have been nice and good for them to take one more step."
Parkland was forced to come from behind last year, and it was more of the same this year, as St. Joe's Prep took a commanding 21-0 lead in the first half.
The District 12-champion Hawks (10-3 overall) were led by senior quarterback Chris Martin, who was inserted back into the starting lineup after nursing a left knee injury that forced him to miss the last two games. Martin finished 12 of 23 for 235 yards and two touchdowns, but did most of his damage in the first half, throwing for 180 yards and the two scores.
A 48-yard screen pass to Olamide Zaccheaus gave the Hawks an early 7-0 lead. That lead doubled when Martin found Justin Montague in the corner of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown with 2:22 remaining in the first quarter.
D'Andre Swift ran in from seven yards out with 3:49 left in the second quarter to give St. Joe's Prep a three-score advantage.
Parkland's offense had a tough time getting going. The Trojans went three-and-out five times in the first half, and did not manage their first first down until the 1:05 mark to go in the opening quarter. It was one of only four first downs in the half.
Running back Kareem Williams, who accumulated 648 yards and nine touchdowns in the past three games, was held to 102 yards on 30 carries, but did not score. The senior had a difficult time finding space to move around.
After halftime, the Trojans began making improvements. Devante Cross found a leaping Jarey Elder (10 catches for 81 yards) for a nine-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone with 7:34 to go.
"It was about toughness and execution," Elder said of the second half adjustments. "We weren't executing the way we should've been when we first came out. When we finally started picking it up, it was a little too late.
"Me and Devante [Cross] have been working on getting on the same page the whole season since I've been back from injury. He felt we had a chance going into the corner and lofting it up, so he made a great throw."
Parkland threatened, only down two scores in the final quarter, but just could not score again. An interception at the St. Joe's 28-yard line with 4:08 to play ended any comeback attempt.
"I'm proud of our kids," Morgans stated. "We went 12-2 and won a league and district title. Our young kids got an extra month of practice which is going to help them out next year."