Imhotep Charter coach Albie Crosby stopped in the handshake line and tried his best to console tearful West Catholic senior Shaquille James.
"It's a bittersweet moment for me," Crosby said after his Panthers romped past the penalty-prone Burrs, 40-8, Friday night in Mount Airy to claim the PIAA District 1-12 Class AA subregional title.
"I feel Shaq's pain," he continued. "Being a graduate of West Catholic and having coached there, part of me will always be a Burr."
Prior to taking over at Imhotep in January, Crosby was co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at West Catholic. He is close friends with Burrs boss Brian Fluck.
"We hugged afterward," Crosby said. "He congratulated me. That means just as much as the victory."
The Panthers (12-0) broke the game open in the third quarter, putting together scoring drives of 69 and 60 yards. David Williams' 64-yard touchdown burst at the start of the fourth was the clincher.
Williams, who spent the last two seasons at West Catholic, carried 23 times for 199 yards and two scores. His late-March transfer to 21st and Godfrey surprised Fluck and company.
Next for Imhotep, either Nov. 30 or Dec. 1, is a state-quarterfinal meeting versus the survivor of a first-round contest between District 2 and 11 squads.
For the first time since the Catholic League joined the PIAA in 2008, West, which was penalized 11 times for 101 yards, did not advance to at least the state semifinals.
The Panthers opened the game with a 16-play, 61-yard series that was capped by Andre Dreuitt's 10-yard pass to wideout Denniston Moore. The Burrs (7-4) briefly went ahead, 8-7, in the second quarter on Greg White's 10-yard burst and his conversion toss to Antwain McCollum.
Aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and a 21-yard kickoff return by DeAndre Scott, Imhotep went back in front, 13-8, on Dreuitt's 1-yard sneak.
Said Crosby: "I was prepared for this game to be a dog fight. The final score doesn't indicate that it was a ballgame all the way through."
The final tally of the night was Tyrone Barge's fumble recovery, courtesy of Randell Hunter's sack and strip of McCollum, and 60-yard rumble to paydirt.
In the first half, the Panthers ran 32 plays from scrimmage compared to the Burrs' 15.
West Catholic 0 8 0 0-8
Imhotep Charter 7 6 14 13-40
IC: Denniston Moore 10 pass from Andre Dreuitt (Moore kick)
WC: Greg White 10 run (Antwain McCollum pass from White)
IC: Dreuitt 1 run (run failed)
IC: David Williams 3 run (Moore kick)
IC: Nasir Bonner 4 run (Moore kick)
IC: Williams 64 run (pass failed)
IC: Tyrone Barge 60 run with fumble (Moore kick)