A Closer Look: La Salle vs. Imhotep Charter

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Deandre Scott (No, 5) and No. 6-ranked Imhotep Charter will take on No. 2 La Salle at 6 p.m. Saturday at Benjamin Johnston Stadium. (Lou Rabito/Inquirer Staff)

 No. 2 LA SALLE (1-0) VS. No. 6 IMHOTEP CHARTER (1-0)

It's only Week 2, but Saturday night's matchup between La Salle and Imhotep Charter is expected to have the electric atmosphere of a playoff game.

La Salle, the Catholic League's five-time defending Class AAAA champ, is ranked No. 2 in Southeastern Pennsylvania; Imhotep, a Public League Class AA powerhouse, comes in at No. 6.

For Imhotep, the 6 p.m. contest at Benjamin Johnston Memorial Stadium is a chance to gain major respect for its program and the sometimes disrespected Public League.

Both teams impressed in their season openers. The Explorers easily handled North Penn, 34-7, and the Panthers raced past Cardinal Mooney (Ohio), 49-21, at Youngstown State.

Here is a closer look at the nonleague contest.

Follow on Twitter. Rick O'Brien @ozoneinq will be providing live tweets.

Internet. The contest will be streamed live at www.thesfbn.com.

Coaches. Drew Gordon is 76-20 (.792 winning percentage) in eight seasons at La Salle; Albie Crosby, a former West Catholic assistant, is 15-1 (.938) in his second year at Imhotep.

History. This is the first meeting between the squads.

Neighbors. For La Salle, it's a short drive down Cheltenham Avenue to Mount Airy.

Quick fact I. The Explorers' Zaire Franklin, a senior tight end and linebacker, played youth football for the Oak Lane Wildcats. One of his coaches was current Imhotep assistant Eric Richardson.

Quick fact II. Since Crosby took over last year, the Panthers have outscored foes by a combined 700-129.

Solid debut. In his first start for La Salle, Kyle Shurmur, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior quarterback, completed 16 of 25 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

Return tallies. Imhotep scored twice on interceptions against Cardinal Mooney, with Shaquille Jones and Zahir Wright finding paydirt from 71 and 70 yards, respectively.

Junior catalysts. La Salle's Jordan Meachum carried 19 times for 108 yards versus North Penn; Imhotep's Nasir Bonner, a Division I-A prospect, netted 143 yards on 16 tries against Cardinal Mooney.

Big up front. Imhotep's offensive line features center Gordon Thomas (6-0, 305), guards John Carlo-Valentine (6-4, 285) and Aaron Ruff (6-5, 280), and tackle Taleem Muhammad (6-6, 300).

Quotable I. Gordon on the Panthers' mammoth linemen: "It'll be difficult. David Geppert [a 6-3, 260-pound senior] is the only one close to that size."

Injury report. Due to a concussion suffered in training camp, La Salle's Mike Koller, a senior defensive back, remains sidelined.

X factor. In addition to being a force at strong safety, Imhotep's Deandre Scott is a threat as a running back, Wildcat-formation QB, and punt returner.

Quotable II. Crosby on the Explorers: "It's La Salle. You know they're always going to be disciplined and well-coached."

Analysis. Key for La Salle is keeping Bonner and company from ripping off big gains. Imhotep can't allow Shurmur time to set up and throw to a sure-handed receiving corps.

Pick. The Explorers overcome the Panthers' size and speed advantage with late-game savvy. La Salle, 28-20.

- Follow Rick O'Brien on Twitter @ozoneinq

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