La Salle could not knock St. Joseph’s Prep off its winning streak a few weeks ago but Friday night — with the season on the line for both football teams — the Explorers get another shot at the Hawks.
The rivals meet again at Northeast High School in the Philadelphia Catholic League Class 6A final. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Winner advances to the District 12 championship against either Northeast or Central.
St. Joseph’s Prep comes into the contest ranked eighth in maxpreps.com’s Xcellent 25 national rankings after improving their 2017 record to 9-0 with a 41-7 win over Father Judge last Friday in the PCL-6A semifinals.
The victory extended the Hawks’ win streak to 23 games with Prep’s last loss coming to La Salle in the 2015 PCL 4A final — Nick Rinella’s 24-yard touchdown catch with 49 seconds left giving the Explorers a 29-28 comeback victory and end Prep’s chance at a third-straight PIAA title.
The Hawks’ current run of success includes three victories over the Explorers (7-3), the latest coming Oct. 20 at Widener University as they bested La Salle 28-14.
The Explorers held a 7-0 lead after a quarter thanks to quarterback Danny Solecki’s 3-yard touchdown run but St. Joe’s Prep answered by scoring the next 28 points. QB Marquez McCray got the Hawks even in the second quarter with a 16-yard TD pass to Brandon Sanders. McCray then made it 28-7 early in the fourth with a 45-yard touchdown run.
La Salle fell to Archbishop Wood 31-17 the following week but got back on track in the 6A semifinals against Roman Catholic last Friday, routing the Cahillites 45-0. Isaiah Jones filled in at QB for an injured Solecki and ran for 73 yards and threw for another 52 while the defense earned its second shutout of the season.
In their semifinal win over Judge, McCray threw for 153 yards and two scores and added another 39 yards on the ground while Kolbe Burrell carried the ball six times for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Both the Hawks and Explorers offenses can put up a bunch of points. Prep is averaging 35.2 points per contest while La Salle is posting 33.4 per contest.
The Explorers feature a deep and talented receiving corps with six players with at least 11 catches. Troy Holland leads the group, pacing La Salle in both receptions (41) and receiving yards (484). Brett Mallee had added 381 yards on 26 catches.
St. Joe’s Prep quarterback McCray, a Lansdale native, has thrown for 927 yards and nine touchdowns and is third on the Hawks in rushing with 348 yards on 62 carries. Sanders has been Prep’s top target, hauling 23 passes for 272 yards — both team highs.
The Hawks’ defense has been tough to score on all season, allowing opponents just 8.3 points per game with just two teams — Tampa Jesuit Sept. 9 (a 28-21 Prep win) and La Salle — even reaching double digits against the Prep.
You Again >> The District 1-6A quarterfinals features three rematches from earlier this season while the one outlier — sixth-seeded North Penn at No. 3 Garnet Valley — is a rematch of last year’s 6A final.
- No. 7 Pennridge visits No. 2 Perkiomen Valley with the Rams the only side to beat the PAC champ Vikings in 2017 – shutting out PV 29-0 at Helman Field in Week 3.
- No. 1 Neshaminy hosts No. 8 Pennsbury two weeks after Neshaminy edged Pennsbury 21-20 to win the outright Suburban One League National Conference title on receiver Cory Joyce’s 2-yard TD pass to quarterback Brody McAndrew in the final minute.
- No. 4 Coatesville hosts No. 5 Downingtown East after the Red Raiders beat their Ches-Mont National Division rival 38-27. Coatesville went ahead with three seconds left, Ricky Ortega hitting Dapree Bryant for a 25-yard touchdown.
While NP and Garnet Valley are meeting for the first time in 2017, the Knights are looking to repeat last season’s result when they topped the Jaguars 48-38 in the district final at Crawford Stadium.
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