St. Josephs Prep wins PIAA Class AAAA title
Written by: Billy Splain on Monday, December 16th, 2013
“We were champions from the day we came here”! Gabe Infante was as excited as the high school football players he just led to the AAAA state title of perennial power Pittsburgh Central Catholic by a score of 35-10. “From the day I got here I said we would be champions and that’s what we did”. The Hawks shut down the Vikings vaunted scoring machine the entire second half after giving up 10 first half points. “Our defense has done a phenomenal job playing red zone defense since LaSalle so that was no surprise to me” said Infante of that effort.
The game started out as a 2 sided defensive battle each team failed to move the ball on their first 2 drives. an interception by Jon Petrishan ended the Hawks second drive and a big hit for loss by Shawn Harris ended the Vikings second drive. “Big plays, always big plays. They win championships” said coach Infante. On the third Hawk possession qb Chris Martin found one. Vince Moffett was streaking down the middle of the field and Martin hit him in stride at the five yard line. Moffett finished the 26 yard scoring pass with ease. Pat Walsh finished the drive with the point after and the Hawks had a 7-0 lead. “He’s the MVP of our team” said Infante of Martin’s 13/21/192 yard, 2 touchdown performance.
PCC struck back quickly. Luigi Lista-Brinza took the first hand off of the next drive that began at the PCC 23 and burst through for an 18 yard gain. Facemasking and offsides against the Hawk put the Vikings on the 13. From there Brinza carried for 7 and Joe Cosentino called his own number from the one for the score. Mitchell MacZura tied the game with his kick with 1:06 remaining in the first quarter.
Central Catholics defense stiffened on the next Hawk drive, forcing a punt that went into the end zone for a touch back. Central took over at their 20 with 7:57 in the second quarter and drove to the hawk 12 yard line. During the drive fullback Riley Redman squirted through the line and looked to be heading for the end zone but Vince Moffett made a touchdown saving shoestring tackle at the 28. The drive stalled and MacZura kicked a 29 yard field goal to give the Vikings their only lead of the game 10-7 with 4:58 remaining in the half.
“We could have folded right there but we kept battling back and did what we do” said Moffett. The Hawks next drive stalled but an illegal block during the punt return pinned the Vikings at their own 6. Consentino took a knee and the teams headed into the break with PCC still leading 10-6.
“After the first half we knew we needed to tighten things up and stick to the plan” said Infante of his teams upcoming second half explosion. “We had a couple tricks up our sleeve and at some point you have to throw a great team like that a curve ball. That curve ball came in the form on John Reid. The junior wide receiver lined up on the edge on the Hawks first play of the second half at the 41. Martin hit him in stride and the speedster went the next 59 yards untouched to give his team the lead again. Walsh made it 14-10 at the 9:37 mark in the third and St. Joseph’s never looked back.
The Hawk’s had several chances to put the game away, one of them on PCC’s next possession as Dillon DeIuliis blocked the Viking punt. Jawan McAllister picked up the rolling ball at the 20 and appeared headed to the end zone but was hit at the one. The ball popped loose into the end zone and PCC recovered giving them another chance with the touch back. St. Joe’s defense had other ideas. The Vikings were forced to punt.
After Martin made a rare mistake, throwing an interception over the middle that was made on a great defensive play by Tre Tarpley. The Vikings took over but the play was costly as Viking qb/punter Cosentino was injured on the play and never returned. The drive stalled but Redman, who took over punting duties, pinned the Hawks at the 20 with a touch back kick.
It appeared that the Vikings defense made a drive stopping play when Moffett was defended and couldn’t haul in a third down pass from Martin but the defender was flagged for a personal foul when hitting Moffett late after the in-completion. That was all the extra momentum the Hawks needed. “That was big. We had a couple chances to put them away before that play but the late hit really fired us up” said Martin. With new life on the drive at the Viking 46, Martin led his team to the end zone again. On 1st and 10 Martin completed a beautiful screen pass to Joe DuMond. DuMond went to the corner of the end zone for the score and with 11:51 remaining in the game the Hawks had complete control with a 21-10 lead.
Reid got a huge sack to end the next Viking drive. It was then that Infante turned to another super star, freshmen phenom DeAndre Swift. The future star broke free for a 35 yard td run with 6 minutes remaining in the game. “I’ve coached a lot of great players. He’s going to be the best running back I’ve ever coached” said Infante. Moffett closed out the scoring for the Hawks on a 16 yard td run. “This feels great, I’m really going to miss these guys” said the senior of his AAAA title seniors.
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