PIAA “A” State Title Game – Steelton-Highspire Preview
Written by: Josh Funk on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
Steelton-Highspire has been living up to its nickname lately – they’ve simply been steamrolling opponents.
But it’s not just steamrolling teams with its potent offense that can choose whether to throw on the snow tires or air it out – the defense has also been flattening people and deflating some potent offenses.
Now the Rollers (15-0) get arguably their toughest test of the season when they meet WPIAL champion Clairton (15-0) Friday afternoon at Hersheypark Stadium in the Class “A” state championship game. Kickoff from Chocolatetown is slated for 1 p.m.
The defending PIAA champions haven’t lost since the middle of last season, when the silver and blue were stuck in some turmoil and a three-game losing streak. But Steel-High reeled off nine straight wins, and, in the end, hoisted PIAA gold for the first time ever in school history.
Now, instead of a nice, tidy, eight-game winning streak, Steel-High enters this game on a 24-game win streak, currently the longest in the state. But the Rollers best beware – Clairton has been a winning streak snapper. The Bears thwarted Monaca’s nine-game tear in the WPIAL title game, 12-6, and last week ended a 12-game joy ride by an impressive Farrell Steeler club.
And Steel-High’s offense, which averages 35 points per game, is facing a Clairton defense which has held 14 of its 15 opponents to seven points or less, allowing an average of 3.8 points per game.
But the Rollers have a trump card that Clairton has not seen yet this year – that being senior running back Jeremiah Young, the state’s all-time leading rusher.
Young has run for 2,731 yards and 30 touchdowns this season on 263 carries. It’s the third straight year #5 surpassed 2,000 rushing yards for a season. He ran for 2,091 yards as a sophomore, and an impressive 3,344 yards last season.
In the last three years, Young has run for 98 touchdowns. His career rushing total stands at 8,946 yards, just 54 yards shy of 9,000. In the Rollers’ 27-9 victory against Bishop McCort, Young surpassed the career high school rushing total of an NFL legend, that being one Emmitt Smith.
Smith attended Pensecola, Florida’s Escambia High School from 1983-’86, where he ran for 8,804 yards before attending the University of Florida.
In last year’s state title victory against Serra Catholic, Young ran 45 times for 292 yards and scored four touchdowns. He also added two 2-point conversion runs.
Steel-High also boasts other offense threats in dual-threat quarterback Andre Campbell (517 rush yards, 994 pass yards, 15 total TD), running back Dionte Willis (327 rush yards, 5 TD) and receiver Jordon Smith (34 rec., 649 yards, 5 TD). The Rollers also boast a wrecking fullback/defensive lineman named Jordan Hill. He’s going to attend Rutgers in the fall.
Yes, Steel-High is impressive offensively. But check out what the Rollers’ defense has done this season. They’ve held opponents to a grand total of 145 points (9.67 points per game). More impressively, check out what Steel-High did to District 11 offensive juggernaut Schuylkill Haven last weekend.
The Rollers held the Hurricanes to just nine points – Haven finished the season as the 9th-best scoring team in state history (674 total points), and Zach Barket, the state’s first-ever 4,000-yard rusher in a single season, was held to a season-low 178 rushing yards and one touchdown. Barket had entered the game with 4,042 rushing yards and 65 touchdowns scored.
Steel-High also limited traditional District 6 offensive power Bishop McCort to just nine points as well. The Rollers have outscored their 2008 playoff opposition 177-47.
Believe it or not, Steel-High is making some history in this PIAA title game, District 3’s 12th all-time appearance. The Rollers are just the second D3 team to reach consecutive state finals – Manheim Central (2003-’04) is the other.
No District 3 team has ever won back-to-back PIAA titles. Steel-High is looking to join South Park, Bethlehem Catholic, McKeesport Area, Allentown Central Catholic, and Thomas Jefferson as the only PIAA reps to be 2-0 in state finals.
The only question for Steel-High will be how Mr. Young’s ankle holds up. It hasn’t been 100% this season, but it hasn’t seemed to really matter – yet. Young is slated to play in the game, according to Rod Frisco of the Harrisburg Patriot News.
Will Steel-High hoist state gold for the second straight year and bring District 3’s small-school state finals record to an impressive 5-0?
Find out Friday afternoon.
Steelton-Highspire individual statistics are from Maxpreps.com and Pennlive.com. Steelton-Highspire program information is from the 2007 Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide. PIAA playoff information is from the 2007 PIAA finals media guide.
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