After going winless in its first three games, a largely inexperienced La Salle squad rushed for 500-plus yards in a 58-28, confidence-boosting triumph over Haverford School on Sept. 15.
The Explorers, who were idle last weekend, hope to carry that momentum into their Catholic League Red Division opener against St. Joseph's Prep. The archrivals are set to battle at 8 p.m. Friday at Widener's Leslie C. Quick Stadium.
"Our goal is just to get better every week," La Salle coach John Steinmetz said. "We have such a young squad, so it's all about trying to make sure the kids are learning in every practice and game."
The Explorers (1-3) had to make a big adjustment when its starting quarterback, Jack Machita, was sidelined with a hand injury in a 21-13 loss to North Penn on Aug. 31.
Sean Daly, previously a multipurpose performer, took over for Machita the following week and completed 12 of 23 passes for 220 yards and a score in a 35-23 setback against Malvern Prep.
"We were working Sean in as a Wildcat quarterback during preseason workouts, so he's pretty comfortable back there," Steinmetz said.
St. Joe's Prep, also coming off a bye, is 2-0. The Hawks fought past two Maryland teams, St. Peter's Prep, 35-27, and Our Lady of Good Counsel, 34-27.
"I liked the way we finished in both of those games," St. Joe's Prep coach Gabe Infante said. "Our kids were resilient, battled through adversity, and found a way to come out on top."
The Hawks' potent offense is fueled by QB Kyle McCord, halfback Kolbe Burrell, handyman Marques Mason, and receivers Johnny Freeman and Marvin Harrison Jr.
McCord, an up-and-coming sophomore and first-year starter, connected on 26 of 38 throws for 369 yards and three scores vs. Our Lady of Good Counsel. "He's done a nice job of directing the offense," Infante said.
Daly is supported on offense by halfbacks Manny Quiles and Jalen Devose. The two combined for 245 rushing yards and three TDs on 27 attempts against Haverford School.
Defensively, La Salle is still trying to work out the kinks. Its secondary has been vulnerable when it comes to giving up the big play.
The Hawks have a rock-solid linebacking corps made up of Liam Johnson, Cooper Kim, Jeremiah Trotter Jr, and Myles Talley.
No. 12 La Salle (1-3) vs. No. 1 St. Joseph's Prep (2-0)
At Widener, Friday at 8 p.m.
Twitter: Follow @ozoneinq for live updates.
History: The Hawks lead the series, 51-36-5.
Last year: St. Joe's Prep posted four unanswered touchdowns and downed La Salle, 28-14, in the regular season. The Hawks also beat the Explorers, 17-3, in the Catholic League Class 6A final.
Rookie to watch: La Salle has a highly promising freshman running back in Samuel Brown. Against Haverford School, on his first carry of the season, he broke free for a 68-yard score.
Up front: St. Joe's Prep's stout offensive line is anchored by Matt McGeary, Casey Stephenson, and Anthony Cerrutti.
Patrolling the middle: La Salle's defense relies heavily on linebackers Dillon Trainer, Tyson Goldstein, Abdul Carter, and Brendan Frusco. Frusco suffered a leg injury vs. Haverford School and is questionable to play on Friday.