ST.JOSEPH'S PREP 10, FRANKFORD 7
St. Joseph's Prep achieved a football milestone, but there were very few high-fives or celebratory hugs afterward.
That's because the Hawks, despite coming in as a considerable favorite, barely defeated Frankford, 10-7, Saturday at Northeast to claim their first PIAA District 12 Class AAAA crown.
"We didn't play to the best of our ability, and that's our goal very time we step onto the field," said Prep senior linebacker Ryan McNulty, who was involved in 11 tackles. "We have to fix things moving forward."
The Catholic League champs could not gain any rhythm on offense, spent an inordinate amount of time playing defense, committed two turnovers, and failed to come away with points on four red-zone trips.
The determined Pioneers came oh so close to becoming the Public League's first district titlist at the Class AAAA level since George Washington surprised La Salle in 2008.
"Those guys battled," McNulty said of Frankford. "They're warriors. I have the utmost respect for them."
The Pioneers reached midfield in the final minute, but, with no timeouts remaining, a spike and two incomplete passes ended the upset bid.
"I couldn't be prouder of you guys," Frankford coach Will Doggett said to his teary-eyed players in a postgame huddle. "You represented Frankford to the max. Don't hang your heads."
With the closer-than-anticipated triumph, the Prep (9-2) advanced to a state quarterfinal meeting the weekend of Nov. 29-30 versus a yet-to-be determined opponent from District 2, 4 or 11.
"I don't want to take anything away from Frankford," Hawks coach Gabe Infante said. "Obviously, though, I'm disappointed with how we played. We struggled to find ourselves."
For the Prep, junior Jack Clements, making his first start in place of injured senior Chris Martin, completed 6 of 14 passes for 18 yards.
Said Infante: "He's a different player from Chris. He's going to find his own talents. We have to help him feel comfortable."
The Hawks did all of their scoring - Vince Moffett's 2-yard run and Pat Walsh's 27-yard field goal - in the first 15 minutes. They were held to 137 rushing yards on 35 attempts.
Frankford, which made it 10-7 on Marquise Poston's 6-yard keeper late in the third quarter, outgained the Prep, 191-155.
Three interceptions, a few dropped passes, and a botched fourth-quarter center snap played a part in the Pioneers (7-4) falling just short of a big-time shocker.
"We definitely sent a message to the Catholic League that we're not pushovers," Doggett said.
In 1977, the Prep edged Lincoln, 14-13, for the City Championship. The Catholic League vs. Public League series was suspended in 1980.
Frankford 0 0 7 0-7
St. Joseph's Prep 7 3 0 0-10
SJP: Vince Moffett 2 run (Pat Walsh kick)
SJP: FG Walsh 27
F: Marquise Poston 6 run (Prince Cooper kick)