Jones, St. Joes Prep too much for Harrisburg to handle in 6A State Championship



Written by: Brendan Ricciardi on Saturday, December 10th, 2022


MECHANICSBURG, PA. — It started with a bang, and it just never stopped.

St. Joes Prep QB Samaj Jones ran for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, and Harrisburg never found any answers on how to stop him as they fell 42-7 in the PIAA 6A State Championship game.

Harrisburg was able to move the ball on their first drive after a perfect pass from Shawn Lee Jr. to Elias Coke, but St. Joes was able to stop the Cougars on fourth down and steal the momentum back.

That momentum led to Samaj Jones finding Khaseem Phillips, Brandon Rehmann, and Elijah Jones for touchdowns on consecutive drives to open up a 28-0 lead while still in the first half.

After Khaseem Phillips punched in a short run near the end of the half, the third quarter began with a running clock. The Hawks took their foot off the gas in the second half, but the numbers from this one were staggering.

Samaj Jones completed 9/10 passes for 264 yards and four touchdown passes in addition to running for 89 yards and a touchdown. David Washington Jr. caught four passes for 123 yards, and this is a combo that will be back next year and better than ever for a St. Joes Prep team that brings home their seventh state championship since 2013.

As for Harrisburg, their combination of Mahkai Hopkins (13/49) and Kyle Williams Jr. (16/43) were bottled up on the ground for most of the night. Williams Jr. was able to make his presence felt as a receiver, catching 6 passes for 98 yards. Shawn Lee Jr. completed 12 of 19 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown without turning the ball over.

The Cougars were able to give their fans something to cheer about late in the fourth when Shawn Lee Jr. found Kyle Williams Jr. for a 66-yard touchdown right in front of the home sideline.

“That’s one thing, no matter what the scoreboard says, we are extremely proud of our guys because they fought to the very end,” said said Harrisburg Head Coach Cal Everett. “As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”

In the end, they were no match for the size, speed, and execution of a St. Joes Prep team that will send several players to upper echelon Division 1 programs including Josiah Trotter, son of former Eagles LB Jeremiah Trotter, and Anthony Sacca, son of former Penn State QB Tony Sacca among others.

For Harrisburg, this ends a remarkable playoff run that saw them go 11-3, with playoffs wins against Wilson, Central York, Manheim Township, and bitter rival State College.

The Cougars were led by an outstanding senior class who is going to be very tough to replace.

Terrell Reynolds, Kyle Williams Jr., Mahkai Hopkins, Ameer Grandberry, Amir Jones, and Zakii Lewis among many others will be missed by this Harrisburg team, who at the very least can pride themselves as being the second best team in the state, and the best public school.

Still, the future is bright. Shawn Lee Jr. now has the experience of playing in a State Championship game at the quarterback position, and he is only a sophomore. OL Kevin Brown is just a freshman, and already holds an offer from Penn State.

“It’s a resilient group, I think the one thing that sticks out is just how resilient they are,” said Everett. “They were able to overcome so many different obstacles throughout the course of this season.”

“And we will be back.”

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