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FOOTBALL: "Next Game Up" Mentality Fuels St. Joe's Prep as State Final Beckons

12/07/2018, 4:15pm EST
By John Knebels

By: John Knebels

PHILADELPHIA--Go to a St. Joseph’s Prep football practice and prepared to be wowed. Precise drills, one-on-one coaching, and zero nonsense. It’s as close to a college football preparation that you’ll ever see from a high school program.

So, it’s not surprising that you won’t ever find a Prep player who provides anything less than a direct, respectful, succinct answer to a reporter’s question. In other words, the Hawks’ opponents will never be able to rely on any bulletin board material.

Take, for instance, the days leading up to the Prep’s PIAA Class 6A state semifinal against Pine-Richland. Certainly, having an opportunity to avenge last year’s championship loss to P-R was a vital component of the Hawks’ 37-0 demolition triumph this past Saturday, which set the stage for tomorrow’s final against Harrisburg at Hershey Park Stadium. However, getting a Prep representative to state the obvious before the game was a waste of energy. They wouldn’t bite.

“It’s just the next game on the schedule” was the collective quote. In other words, of course we want to avenge last year’s debacle, but talking about it is a moot point.

Honestly, all of the games that we have played are in the past and we are focusing in on our next opponent,” said senior wide receiver Jack Sutton. “During the season, we don’t do much celebrating.”

St. Joe's Prep is Ready to Take on Harrisburg Saturday in Hershey

Once Pine-Richland became the 12th straight victim of a St. Joseph’s Prep team that is attempting to win its fourth state title in six seasons, the bus ride home from Altoona was reportedly a mixture of early excitement followed by calm and maturity.

“This week we were back tightening the screws and are completely dialed in on Harrisburg,” said Sutton. “Excited for another week with my brothers.”

Senior running back Marques Mason, who amassed 107 yards and scored his team-leading 16th touchdown against Pine-Richland, said the Prep quickly “moved on from the win last week” and wants to “prepare and focus on this game this week.”

“We don’t want to let last week’s win distract us from valuable preparation,” said Mason.

Junior left guard Matt McGeary said the Hawks really do treat every opponent equally.

“The most important game is the next one,” said McGeary. “Last week we were playing to stay together and another week with each other. We are looking at this upcoming game as we would any other. The game this weekend is about finishing the mission we set out on as brothers last winter.”


St. Joe's Prep Senior Marques Mason - photo by Zamani Feelings

Junior left guard Matt McGeary said the Hawks really do treat every opponent equally.

“The most important game is the next one,” said McGeary. “Last week we were playing to stay together and another week with each other. We are looking at this upcoming game as we would any other. The game this weekend is about finishing the mission we set out on as brothers last winter.”

Senior cornerback Mike Alexander admitted the obvious.
“Yea, it was fun completely dominating (Pine-Richland) because of what happened last year,” he said. “It was our chance to right some wrongs and get rid of some bad memories. We expected them to be really physical so we had to come out strong. After the first offensive and defensive drives. we felt confident.”

No bragging. No disrespect to Pine-Richland. Not a smidgen of negativity about Harrisburg, or any other team for that matter.

(PSD Photos By Patty Morgan & Mike Gray)

That’s part of coaching, too, and it’s one of the reasons why the Prep will finish off a perfect season with a 40-14 win and yet another state title.

 

(John Knebels can be reached at jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)

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