By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)—The seconds passed and the anxiety on the faces of the St. Joseph’s Prep sideline dissolved with them as soon as the Hawks’ Dillon DeIuliis reached up and snared the deflected pass.
It turned out to be a game-saving interception and enabled Prep to survive stubborn, feisty Frankford, 10-7, to win the District 12 Class AAAA, or city, championship Saturday night at Northeast High School.
It’s the first city championship The Prep has won in football since 1977, though it has to be noted it has to be noted that the city series was suspended from 1980-2007, until the Public and Catholic Leagues revived it upon entry into the PIAA.
There seemed to be no sense of urgency or emotion from The Prep sideline throughout much of the game. The Hawks appeared docile, content in the fact that anything Public League Class AAAA champion Frankford tried, they had an answer for.
“We were definitely flat tonight and that was a problem at the beginning of the season,” said DeIuliis, a junior, who almost had an interception on the second play of the game. “I really don’t know what it was tonight, because the effort and intensity was no acceptable at all. I know the last time Prep last won a city title was back in the 1970s. But it f we plan to go further, and we plan to go further, we have to play a lot better than that.
“There’s no doubt about it, Monday is going to be an awful day, because we’re going to hear it—and we deserve to hear it.”
Frankford did have something to do with how Prep played. The Pioneers’ defensive front gave St. Joe’s problems, and tailback Quinton Ellis and quarterback Marquise Poston posses the kind of explosive speed that could change the course of a game.
“I thought we had enough talent to win this game,” Frankford coach Will Doggett said. “We just came up short a couple of times. We missed a couple of balls and a few dumb penalties. We hurt ourselves. But you have to work around that stuff. Our defense tonight was phenomenal. I still think we have the best defense in the city. I really thought we had a shot of winning this going in. we would be in the game all of the way to the end. And we were. I wasn’t surprised by that. I was surprised that we lost.”
A 27-yard field goal by Prep’s Pat Walsh with 9:58 left in the second quarter proved to be the winning difference. Poston scored on a 6-yard run with 50.8 seconds left in the third quarter.
But the Pioneers threw a real jolt into the Hawks when they reached midfield with 9.2 seconds and their last gasp fell incomplete.
“Go back and watch last year’s La Salle-Frankford game, and you saw a La Salle team that was lethargic, and came out from a hangover playing us, and that was my biggest concern going into this game,” Hawks coach Gabe Infante said. “How do you bounce back, and we had a bunch of guys that didn’t practice all week, and it showed. They were flat. This is all new for us. But it’s another step in the process for us. I’m just glad we’re doing this from a winning perspective.”