Seventh Heaven: Big First Half Gives St. Joseph’s Prep 7th State Championship in School History



Written by: Willie McGonigle on Saturday, December 10th, 2022


CHAMBERSBURG: Last week in their state semi-final victory over Garnet Valley the St. Joseph’s Prep Hawks jumped out to 48-0 halftime lead. Saturday evening, the Hawks offense came out rolling racking up 311 yards and putting 35 points on the scoreboard in the opening 24 minutes on their way to a dominating 42-7 victory over Harrisburg in the PIAA 6A State Championship for the 7th State Championship in school history.

For the Hawks it was their eighth straight trip to the state finals. Last season the Hawks fell to Mt. Lebanon 35-17 and that played a huge role in motivating the Hawks for Saturday night.

“It’s preparation, our coaches came in Monday we knew we’ve been here right 365 days and we got to this week again and we wanted to make sure we handled it the right way. Our coaches did an unbelievable job preparing these guys they brought in, had a great week of practice and it showed by the way they came out and handled themselves tonight.” Hawks coach Tim Roken said.

The catalyst for the Hawks dominating offensive performance was Jr. QB Samaj Jones. All Jones did was go 7-7 passing for 234 and three passing touchdowns to go along with 65 and a rushing touchdown all in the first half.

The Hawks wasted little time spreading their wings on the game’s first play from scrimmage Jones kept the ball on a read option keeper and raced practically untouched for the 65-yard score. On their opening drive, the Cougars did manage to get down to the Hawks’s 37-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. The Hawks would make the Cougars pay for the turnover going 63 yards on eight plays with Jones connecting with Khaseem Phillips for a 10-yard touchdown giving them the 14-0 lead after one.

“We just play to a standard, If it takes us 15 plays to score our coaches aren’t happy.” Jones said adding “I’m just playing behind an excellent coaching staff, and they make me look good.”

The Hawks wasted little time in the second quarter with their next two scoring drives only eating up 45 and 43 seconds off the clock with Jones taking to the air for both touchdowns a 46-yarder to Brandon Rehmann and a 57-yarder to Elijah Jones. Phillips added a 3-yard touchdown to put the Hawks up 35-0 heading into the locker room at intermission.

In the first half of the State Semi-Finals and Championship, the Hawks offense outscored their opponents by a total of 83-0.  “You want to be playing your best football this time of year all three phases and we’ve been clicking at the right time.” Roken said adding that “Hats off to our staff that’s the number of hours they spend getting these guys prepared and the kids buying in regardless of the number of hours they sacrifice from their families or social life it’s something they cherish.”

While the Hawks’ offensive was marching up and down the field at will the Hawks’ defense was just as impressively anchored by Linebackers Josiah Trotter 13 tackles and Cole Nilles (8 tackles) the Hawks held the Cougar’s offense to a total of 262 yards and their only score didn’t come until the game was out of doubt and came with Shawn Lee Jr connecting with Kyle Williams for a 66-yard touchdown pass.

Owen Garwood would haul in a Samaj Jones pass on a trick play for the lone Hawks score of the second half. Behind Tackles Joseph McMahon, Kevin Towns, Guards George Reinhard, Lakeem Steele, and Center Julian Cervantes the Hawks totaled 420 yards on only 31 plays and finished the season’s winners of 12 straight games.

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