Senior Cooper Kim is one of St. Joseph's Prep's stalwart defenders, anchoring a rock-solid linebacking corps.
With Kim and Co. holding Northeast to a pair of touchdowns on Saturday night, the Hawks rolled past the Vikings, 49-14, in the PIAA District 12 Class 6A championship game at Northeast.
Since St. Joe's Prep had beaten Northeast in the last two district finals by scores of 31-0 and 44-6, the Hawks arrived at Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium as considerable favorites.
"You can't take any team lightly in high school football, so we prepared for this game the same way we do any other game," Kim said. "We never underestimate any opponent."
Kim, a third-year varsity member, turned in another strong performance while positioned at outside linebacker. He registered six tackles, including four solos,
"Cooper is smart, tough, athletic, a student of the game, plays with a tremendous motor, and makes sure his teammates are lined up in the right spots," St. Joe's Prep coach Gabe Infante said.
The Hawks (10-0) will take on District 11 titlist Bethlehem Freedom (12-1) in a state quarterfinal at 1 p.m. Saturday back at Northeast.
Kim is joined at linebacker by fellow senior Myles Talley, junior Liam Johnson, and sophomore Jeremiah Trotter Jr.
Northeast's two scores were QB Charles Britt's 4-yard run in the second quarter and wideout Elijah Jeudy's 70-yard reception in the third.
"There's always room for improvement, but we put a lot of hats on the ball," Kim said. "We were fast and physical."
Kim also sees some time on offense as a hard-charging fullback. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder caught a 3-yard, third-quarter TD pass to give St. Joe's Prep a 35-6 advantage.
The Hawks defense also features linemen Anthony Leneghan, Andrew Bailey, Giambi Nesbitt, and Nick Yagodich, cornerbacks Mike Alexander and Zach Bouggess, and safeties Anthony Rightley and Nicolas Rios.
Kim has a preferred walk-on offer from Bucknell. He has also received interest from Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Lehigh.
"I went to a camp at Bucknell and I really like the school," the 17-year-said. "But I'm keeping my options open, waiting to see what happens after the season is over."
Against Northeast, St. Joe's Prep's Kyle McCord connected on 15 of 20 throws for 182 yards and four scores. Marvin Harrison made two first-half TD catches, and Cooper and Johnny Freeman had one apiece.
Bethlehem Freedom routed Emmaus, 49-17, Saturday night to set up a meeting with the Hawks.
"Freedom is playing very good, inspired football right now," Infante said. "Teams like that are always a concern."
District 1 Class 6A
No. 2 seed Coatesville vs. No. 1 North Penn, at Pennridge, 7 p.m.
District 1 Class 5A
No. 5 West Chester Rustin at No. 2 Upper Dublin, 7 p.m.
PIAA Class 5A
Archbishop Wood vs. Hollidaysburg, at Milton Hershey, 2 p.m.
PIAA Class 4A
Pottsgrove vs. Bethlehem Catholic, at Palisades, 7 p.m.
PIAA Class 3A
Conwell-Egan vs. Middletown, at Milton Hershey, 7 p.m.
PIAA Class 2A
West Catholic vs. Richland, at Central York, 2 p.m.
PIAA Class 6A
St. Joseph's Prep vs. Bethlehem Freedom at Northeast, 1 p.m.
PIAA Class 4A