By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — There were plenty of shocks this weekend during the PIAA state championships, but Southeastern Pennsylvania was represented extremely well in St. Joseph’s Prep and Archbishop Wood.
By winning the large school championships, The Prep in Class AAAA and Wood in Class AAA, respectively, both schools made history.
Wood’s 22-10 victory enabled the Vikings to become the first District 12 team to win multiple PIAA state football championships. And no one expected St. Joe’s Prep to absolutely dismantle Pittsburgh Central Catholic, and a defense that given up a mere 5.5 points a game this season, by a resounding 35-10 score.
It’s the first Prep team to win a state championship.
“We heard the talk from a few people that we didn’t have chance to win, mostly from the Pittsburgh people, but no one really listened to that and no one really cared,” said Hawks’ senior quarterback Chris Martin, who will play for Johns Hopkins and who threw for a Class AAAA state championship game record three TD passes. “We believed in ourselves, which was the most important thing for us.”
Prep (12-3) knew Central Catholic was big, but the Hawks felt that they could exploit Central Catholic when they went into their spread offense.
“They hadn’t really been tested in matchups one-on-one down the middle of the field,” said Martin, who completed 18 of 25. “They sat in cover-2 the whole night. There were a few times when they dropped into other coverages, but there were a few times I made a couple of checks.”
For Martin, it really didn’t sink in that the Hawks were state champions until he actually held the trophy in his hands.
“It was a pretty big deal for us to be the first Prep team to win a state championship,” Martin said. “Winning a state championship is one of the greatest accomplishments in high school. It’s sad that it’s the end of our high school career, but it’s a great way to go out as a senior.”
Most of Prep’s team is coming back next season, including Jon Daniel Runyan, who proved to be a difference maker, with 3 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
For Wood (13-2), reaching the state championship has become an annual thing. The Vikings reached the state final for the third-straight year, and won for the second time in that span.
Wood most probably will be a favorite to repeat as PIAA Class AAA state champions, with the return of junior tailback Jarrett McClenton, who established new championship game records with 40 carries for 238 yards.
The Vikings return almost its entire offense, starting with the offensive line: juniors Jake Cooper (6-3, 230 pounds), Tom Cardoza (6-1, 220), Ryan Neher (6-3, 240), Shawn Scroger (6-2, 260) and major Division I recruit Ryan Bates (6-5, 285) are all back.
In December 2013, it looks like another dominant year for the Philly schools in 2014.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.