Football: With Martin back at the controls, Hawks advance


BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Chris Martin says he received medical clearance early in the week to return from a knee injury suffered three weeks ago.

"The orthopedic surgeon said Monday it was pretty much my decision when I wanted to come back," the St. Joseph's Prep quarterback said. "I got my brace Tuesday, and I knew it was going to give me the support I needed."

Saturday afternoon, with Martin looking much like his former self and the Prep's defense mostly in shutdown mode, the quick-starting Hawks topped Parkland, 21-10, in a PIAA Class AAAA state quarterfinal at Liberty's Frank Banko Field.

After sitting out the last two games, Martin, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior, completed 12 of 22 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. In the first half, when the Prep built a 21-3 advantage, he was 6 for 11 for 181 yards.

"I wasn't too nervous," the captain and second-year starter said. "We had a good week of practice, and we didn't put in any new plays. It felt like every other week."

Next for the Hawks (10-3) is District 1 champ Neshaminy (13-1) in a state semifinal scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Northeast.

Martin said he "wasn't feeling too good" about two weeks ago and questioned whether he'd be able to rejoin the team. "Gradually, it got better," he said.

Prep coach Gave Infante said the coaches "knew all week" that Martin would be under center against Parkland. And for a spread attack that had struggled without him, it was a much-needed boost.

Martin, previously a dual-threat QB, said he was instructed by the coaches not to run the ball. "They didn't want me to get hit," he said.

Prep's defense also answered the call, holding explosive running back Kareem Williams to 102 yards on 30 carries. The Trojans (12-2) were limited to 76 yards rushing and 74 passing through three quarters.

"I think we game-planned pretty well for them," senior free safety Vince Moffett said. "We knew they had a talented running back (Williams) and a few dangerous receivers that we had to watch."

In the first quarter, Martin, on a middle-screen pass, hooked up with Olamide Zaccheaus for a 48-yard TD and then found Justin Montague for a 29-yard score.

"Chris is so good at reading defenses and knowing what to do with the ball," said Moffett, also a running back. "His value in that way can't be measured."

Late in the second stanza, Martin completed passes to John Reid (21 yards) and Zaccheaus (28) to set up D'Andre Swift's 6-yard TD run.

On defense for the Prep, linebacker Ryan McNulty posted a team-high 10 tackles. Moffett (fourth-quarter pick) and end Jake Strain (third-quarter fumble recovery) both made seven stops.

St. Joseph's Prep 14 7 0 0-21

Parkland 0 3 0 7-10

SJP: Olamide Zaccheaus 48 pass from Chris Martin (Pat Walsh kick)

SJP: Justin Montague 29 pass from Martin (Walsh kick)

SJP: D'Andre Swift 6 run (Walsh kick)

P: FG Stefan Williams 31

P: Jarey Elder 9 pass from Devante Cross (Williams kick)