Football

Neumann Goretti seeks their 1st state championship

Tagged under: District 12, News, Playoffs

Anthony Franklin | December 9, 2022

 

When you hear Neumann Goretti most automatically think of their powerhouse basketball program which sports 9 state titles and has sent players to numerous Division 1 schools such as Miami (Fl), Towson, Drexel, Kentucky, Villanova, Syracuse, etc… These days Neumann is just as successful on the gridiron as they’ve experienced a resurgence under the leadership of Head Coach Albie Crosby. Coach Crosby is coaching his 3rd team in the state finals. He was the lead assistant coach/offensive coordinator for the 2010 West Catholic state championship team and the HC on the Imhotep Charter 2015 championship winning team. While Coach Crosby has earned the winning trophy twice, he also knows how it feels to fall in defeat as two of his Imhotep teams fell in the state finals.

The 2022 Neumann Goretti saints avenged their 2021 state semifinal loss to Wyomissing in dramatic fashion last Saturday. After falling behind 17-14 with under a minute remaining in the game they pulled a miraculous comeback off to win the game 20-17 and make their first state championship game appearance. Up next for the Saints is a date with Belle Vernon who sits with a great record of 11-2 and have won 10 consecutive games. A key player in their win over Wyomissing was Sr. RB/CB Shawn Battle who rushed for 190 yards & a TD. Unfortunately, Shawn was ejected from the game for throwing a punch and may not be available. On the season Shawn has rushed for 916 yards & 14 TDs to go along with 5 receiving TD scores and a pick 6. In his absence the last quarter of the game freshmen RB’s Amahj Gowens and Terrance Page both combined for 53 yards to help the Saints set up the winning TD drive. Both will be huge and key roles if Battle is unavailable for action Friday night.

The Saints are playing this game in hopes of winning the first state championship in NG school history. They’ve had some pretty good teams in the past including a loaded 2021 team however have yet to finish the job. Leading them offensively is Junior QB Mekhi Wharton who has thrown for 1540 yards & 17 TDs.  Sr. WR Denim Smith (34-546, 7TDs), Sr. WR Anthony Zungolo and Sr. WR Qaasim Major (223 yards & 2 TDs) are his leading weapons when they look to air it out.

The key hogs upfront which depending on the package can vary are Sr. Jose Rivera, Sr. Michael Gargano, Sr. Louis Governatore, Sr. Christopher Bressi and Sr. Deshon Dodson. The Saints are a very balanced team but as shown last week when the pressure is on to close out a game, they are confident in their QB leading them to victory through the air.

Defensively they’re led by Sr. LB Samuel Hobbs who leads the team with 73 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception & 4 sacks. So. LB Kyreese Bradley is also a main contributor with 44 tackles and 10 tackles for losses. Jr. DB Khari Reid is a hart hitting member of the secondary who has 3 interceptions on the season with 12 passes defended while also returning a fumble for a score. Along the defensive front Jr. DT Koren Robinson & Dodson are the stalwarts with Jr. Jonathan Blue providing depth.

The Saints are fairly deep along both lines and showed last week that while they may be temporarily down, they’re never out of it. One thing they all mentioned was fighting for their brother every single play, not letting the bad plays carry onto the next play and winning the state title for Coach Crosby. One interesting detail was Coach Crosby lost his mother on November 12th. While it’s been rough for him and his family, it’s equally been rough for his players, and they dedicated their win last Saturday to Coach Crosby and his beloved mother. What better way for the Saints to cap off the 2022 season than winning the first ever state title in football for the school in honor of Coach Crosby’s mother. The Saints march into Cumberland Valley highly motivated & with tons of confidence that they’re worthy of being champions.

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