No. 1 Hawks remain undefeated after beating No. 2 Explorers

Reprint from - By Rick O'Brien (Staff Writer)

St. Joe’s Prep’s Brandon Sanders makes the catch for a touchdown covered by La Salle’s Devon Smith. (Avi Steinhardt/Photographer)

St. Joseph’s Prep was ranked No. 7 in the country according to one publication coming into Friday night’s Catholic League Red Division showdown against La Salle.

Still, the Hawks, ranked No. 1 by the Inquirer, were uncharacteristically sluggish in the early going, allowed the No. 2 Explorers to dominate the time of possession in the first half and nearly fell behind by two touchdowns.

But, beginning with DeJuan Dandridge’s huge interception, Gabe Infante’s squad rebounded with four unanswered touchdowns and downed the Explorers, 28-14, in front a packed crowd at Widener’s Leslie C. Quick Stadium.

Despite managing only 21 yards rushing and 37 passing in the opening 24 minutes, St. Joe’s Prep stayed unbeaten at 7-0 and took over sole possession of first place in the Red Division with a 5-0 mark.

La Salle took the opening drive and marched 60 yards on 10 plays. Quarterback Danny Solecki’s 3-yard keeper gave the visitors a 7-0 advantage.

Early in the second frame, the Explorers (6-2, 4-1) were 6 yards shy of another tally. But Dandridge picked off Solecki’s pass across the middle at the 2 and returned it 71 yards.

Three plays later, the Hawks evened things when Marquez McCray connected with wideout Brandon Sanders on a l6-yard, left-side, fade.

The Hawks, who beat La Salle for the eighth time in the last nine meetings, gained control with a pair of third-quarter tallies.

Kolbe Burrell’s 1-yard dive and Marques Mason’s 51-yard burst down the left sideline produced a 21-7 advantage.

McCray’s 45-yard TD run early in the fourth, when he made a nifty cutback at the 10, pretty much clinched St. Joe’s Prep’s 21st consecutive victory.

McCray, a second-year starter who picked up a scholarship offer this week from Sacred Heart, completed 11 of 15 passes for 134 yards. He rushed 10 times for 56 yards.

Burrell carried 16 times for 54 yards; Mason netted 45 yards on only four attempts.

The Hawks offensive line was made of center Anthony Cerrutti (5-10, 265), guards Matt McGeary (6-2, 310) and Casey Stephenson (6-2, 305), and tackles Nick DiPrinzio (6-2, 265) and R.J. McKee (5-10, 245), and tight end Phil O’Connor (6-10, 210) and Anthony Leneghan (6-1, 250).

Solecki, who has shined since taking over for injured starter Isaiah Jones in Week 2, made good on 17 of 25 throws for 147 yards. His 8-yard toss to Troy Holland capped the scoring with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

St. Joe’s Prep’s defense was led by linebackers Bradley Cobaugh (10 tackles, with seven solos) and O’Connor (eight, six). End Rayshad Wallace and safety Myles Talley notches eight and seven stops, respectively.

The Hawks, who have outscored foes by 234-62, upped their advantage in the overall head-to-head series against La Salle to 50-36-5.

La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep will close the Catholic League regular season next weekend against Archbishop Wood (6-2, 4-1) and Archbishop Ryan (3-5, 2-2), respectively.

La Salle                  7   0   0   7  – 14
St. Joseph’s Prep   0   7  14  7  – 28

LS: Danny Solecki 3 run (Dan Karrash kick)
SJP: Brandon Sanders 16 pass from Marquez McCray (Anthony Tigano kick)
SJP: Kolbe Burrell 1 run (Tigano kick)
SJP: Marques Mason 51 run (Tigano kick)
SJP: McCray 45 run (Tigano kick)
LS: Troy Holland 8 pass from Solecki (Karrash kick)


St. Joe's Prep explodes over conference rival Archbishop Carroll

Reprint from - By Mike Owens (Staff Writer)

The Prep quarterback Marquez McCray celebrates with teammates during last year’s state semifinals. (Lou Rabito - Staff Photographer)St. Joseph’s Prep, ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Inquirer, exploded for 28 points in the second half to secure a 38-6 win over Archbishop Carroll. The Hawks picked up their 18th straight victory dating back to last year.

Brian Whitmore’s 27-yard TD run gave the Hawks an early lead. The Patriots had a score called back due to a holding penalty. Anthony Tigano’s 32-yard field goal made it 10-0 St. Joseph’s Prep at the half.

Marques Mason and Marquez McCray added rushing touchdowns in the third to make it 24-0.


Archbishop Carroll loses another one to St. Joe's Prep

Reprint from - By Staff Reporter

In their previous meeting, St. Joseph's Prep routed Archbishop Carroll 42 - 6. This time around? Just more of the same. St. Joseph's Prep took its contest against Archbishop Carroll by a conclusive 38 - 6 score. The margin wasn't a surprise since St. Joseph's Prep is ranked many positions ahead of Archbishop Carroll in the nation.

St. Joseph's Prep's defense put the team in a good position heading into the break, holding Archbishop Carroll to a measly zero points. That gave them a 10 - 0 advantage at the half. St. Joseph's Prep's success only continued in the second half, where it racked up an additional 28 points.

The defeat dropped Archbishop Carroll's record to 2-3. The win got St. Joseph's Prep up to 4-0.

Both teams are aiming to improve upon those records in their upcoming games. Archbishop Carroll will square off against Roman Catholic this Saturday at 1:00 PM. As for St. Joseph's Prep, it will look to defend its home turf against Roman Catholic on Saturday, October 7th at 7:00 PM.


St. Joseph’s Prep continues undefeated start with 27-7 win over Archbishop Wood

Reprint from
- By Daniel Gallen (Columnist -

St. Joseph's Prep Beats Archbishop Wood in Boys Football Archbishop Wood senior Nasir Peoples runs the ball during the game between the two schools on Friday night, September 15, 2017 at Widener University's Quick Stadium in Chester, PA. (Tracie Van Auken - Photographer)

CHESTER — St. Joseph’s Prep spent the past two weeks proving itself against some of the region’s top competition. On Friday night, the Hawks proved themselves against some of Philadelphia’s top talent.

St. Joseph’s Prep took down Philadelphia Catholic League rival Archbishop Wood, 27-7, before a packed Quick Stadium at Widener on Friday night.

As they did in wins over Tampa Jesuit (Fla.) and St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.), the Hawks used suffocating defense and timely offense to pull away for a victory.

The Vikings entered Friday night coming off a win over nationally ranked Bergen Catholic (N.J.) last weekend, and the matchup with St. Joseph’s Prep marked the end of Wood’s four-game gauntlet to open the season. The Vikings come out of games against four prominent opponents with a 2-2 record. Last season, they started 0-2-1 before reeling off 11 straight wins to win the PIAA Class 5A title.

The Hawks (3-0) move more into the meat of their Catholic League schedule against Archbishop Carroll next week.

OFFENSIVE STARS: Running back Marques Mason iced the game with 1 minute, 11 seconds left in the game with his second touchdown run to make it 27-7. The 5-foot-8 junior rushed for 75 yards on 18 carries, and he showed that alongside sophomore Kolbe Burrell (10 rushes, 47 yards), who has last week’s breakout performer, St. Joseph’s Prep has a dangerous two-headed complement of running backs behind quarterback Marquez McCray.

McCray turned in another efficient night. He was 9 of 15 for 145 yards and a touchdown, and he also ran for 59 yards, including a 55-yard dash late in the fourth quarter to help ice the win. Wide receiver Brandon Sanders caught four passes from McCray for 70 yards, including a diving 33-yard touchdown for the game’s first score.

For Wood, running back/safety Nasir Peoples was a workhorse out of the backfield. He carried 23 times for 130 yards and a touchdown. He found creases against a stout Hawks defensive front on occasion, and he broke off a long run of 36 yards early in the contest.

DEFENSIVE STARS: Linebacker Phil O’Connor was once again in the mix for the Hawks behind the defensive line of Ryan Bryce, Rayshad Wallace, Jake Feehery and company. Defensive back Zach Bougess had an interception in his second straight game to help clinch the victory.

The Hawks offensive line did a nice job keeping Florida commit Kyle Pitts, Delaware commit Matt Palmer and the rest of a solid Wood defense away from McCray.

GAME-CHANGING PLAY: Facing fourth-and-2 on the Wood 22 late in the first quarter, McCray connected with Mason for a 17-yard gain that brought St. Joseph’s Prep inside the 10. The drive ended on a 25-yard field goal by kicker Anthony Tigano, but that kick broke a 7-7 tie and gave the Hawks a lead they would never relinquish.

KEY STAT: McCray completed 70 percent of his passes in the first half (7 of 10 for 112 yards and touchdown) to help set the tone for the St. Joseph’s Prep offense. McCray once again showed command of the Hawks and was able to find his receivers in space while also giving it to them where they could make plays, like on Sanders’ diving 33-yard touchdown.


St. Joseph’s Prep quarterback Marquez McCray on facing Wood: “Archbishop Wood, they have great DBs like Nasir Peoples, so they have a lot of trust in their guys so they played a lot of man, so that opened up a lot for us, too.”

St. Joseph’s Prep wide receiver Brandon Sanders on the win: “It feels awesome. We beat a great team. We were very physical up front, we took this game very seriously, a very good opponent. I give all the credit to them, they played a great game, but we came out on top today.”

McCray on his 33-yard touchdown pass to Sanders: “I couldn't even see him. so I just threw it to the spot that I do at practice, and he was able to get it.”

Sanders on how he feels the Hawks stack up in their 3-0 start: “I feel pretty confident. I think we're making the right strides. We're doing everything that we need to do. There's always ways that we can get better. I think that every week we have to keep improving and we'll be good to go for the rest of the season.”


St. Joseph's Prep reigns in win over Archbishop Wood 

Reprint from - By Rick O'Brien (Staff Writer)

St. Joe’s Marques Mason (left) fights for yardage against Archbishop Wood’s Matt Palmer. (William Thomas Cain - Photographer)

After both Archbishop Wood and St. Joseph’s Prep posted impressive wins over North Jersey powers last week, the Southeastern Pennsylvania heavyweights squared off Friday night.

And the Prep, with another impressive showing on defense, maintained its top-dog status in the local rankings and opened Catholic League Red Division action with a convincing 27-7 triumph at Widener’s Quick Stadium.

In beating the Vikings for the second straight season, the Hawks only allowed a first-quarter score.

The Prep, ranked No. 1 in the area, improved to 3-0. No. 3 Wood, which was riding high after knocking off mighty Bergen Catholic, slipped to 2-2.

The Hawks’ defensive charge was led by linemen Ryan Bryce, Paul Hess, Jake Feehery and Rayshad Wallace, and linebackers Phil O’Connor, Bradley Cobaugh, and Zach Snider.

Quarterback Marquez McCray and halfback Marques Mason sparked the Prep offense. McCray converted 9 of 15 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, while Mason carried 19 times for 80 yards and a pair of scores.

Mason’s second tally of the night, a 2-yard run with just over a minute to play, finished the scoring for the defending PIAA Class 6A state champions.

Midway through the second quarter, Mason scored from the 7 to put the Hawks ahead, 17-7. McCray completed passes for 18, 28, and 7 yards in the series.

Prep receiver Brandon Sanders makes a touchdown catch as Archbishop Wood player Nasir Peoples defends. (William Thomas Cain - Photographer)

In the first quarter, after a poor punt gave Prep the ball at the Wood 33-yard line, McCray immediately hooked up with wideout Brandon Sanders, a Bucknell recruit, on to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead.

The Vikings responded with a 7-play, 80-yard drive and evened things on Nasir Peoples’ 21-yard, right-side dart. Two plays earlier, the Virginia Tech recruit — who carried 23 times for 130 yards — broke free for a 36-yard gain.

Late in the opening frame, Anthony Tigano, who earlier had missed a 35-yard field goal attempt, converted a 24-yarder to make it 10-7.

An apparent go-ahead score by Wood early in the second, on a 30-yard pass from Jack Colyar to Adrian Lambert, was wiped out by a penalty.

McCray completed 7 of 10 passes for 112 yards in the first half. Mason and fellow halfback Kolbe Burrell combined for 72 rushing yards on 13 attempts.

The Prep improved its overall advantage in the head-to-head series to 7-2.

These teams have a long tradition of spirited games. Between them, the Hawks and Vikings have captured seven PIAA state championships since 2011.

The Prep, which was ranked No. 13 in the country in USA Today’s most recent Super 25, gained state-wide glory in 2013, 2014, and 2016. Wood took top honors in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016.

Last season, in a contest televised by ESPNU, the Hawks pulled away from the Vikings with three fourth-quarter scores and easily triumphed, 43-24, at Claude Lodge Field in Warminster.

McCray played a key role in that victory. He had a 12-yard scoring reception on a trick play, fired a 36-yard TD pass, and found pay dirt on a 1-yard keeper.

In October 2013, when the Prep and Wood battled in a Catholic League cross-division game, the Prep rallied for a 31-21 victory. The Hawks also won, 20-13, in 2012. The Vikings prevailed in 2011 (42-7) and 2010 (21-20).

Wood and the Prep will take on Roman Catholic (0-3, 0-0) and Archbishop Carroll (2-2, 0-1), respectively, in Red Division action next weekend.