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Written by: Anthony Franklin on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021
The Imhotep Panthers entered Saturday’s game with a 8-1 record with wins over ranked state teams, ran through the Public League undefeated and ready for another lengthy state title run however they had to prepare for a Father Judge team who has had impressive games this season themselves. The Crusaders finished the regular season as the CL 5A champions thanks to Archbishop Wood moving up to 6A this season. Judge would finish their regular season falling to St. Joes Prep 21-13 in which their QB Mike Van Horn accounted for almost all of the offense totaling over 200 yards on the ground in defeat. They would try to employ a mostly running attack against the Panthers but had no such luck until the game was well out of reach.
The game would start out slow for both teams before Imhotep finally caught traction. The Panthers would score a late 1st quarter TD run by So. Tre McCleod to give them a 6-0 lead after the 2 point rushing attempt failed. Midway through the 2nd quarter with just under 8 minutes left the Panthers would strike via the air as So. QB Mikal Davis would throw a beautiful dart to Sr. WR RJ Atkinson that would go 48 yards for a score and Davis would run in the 2 point conversion to extend the lead to 14-0. Judge failed to move the sticks and Imhotep would once again take advantage and capitalize on a 5 yard rushing score by Jr. Rahmir Stewart along with Rahmir converting the 2 point attempt to extend the lead to 22-0. That score pretty much sucked the life out of Judge who would move the chains on a personal foul call only to have to punt with just under 2 minutes remaining in the half and see Imhotep run the punt back 60 yards for a TD & convert the 2 point conversion to take a 30-0 lead into the locker room.
The 3rd quarter would see Father Judge receive the kick and fail to gain a first down once again being forced to punt and Tep would drive down field and have Tre McCleod take the ball into the end zone on a 14 yard score to make it 36-0 with just over 9 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. The theme for Judge offense was pound the ball with QB Mike Van Horn who took a beating yet got up every time and fought for every inch and yard he could get out of a stingy and physical Imhotep defense. The Panthers would pull their starters after they went up 36 and with the clock running. Freshman RB Jabree Wallace-Coleman would tack on the final Tep points with a 1 yard run to extend the lead to 42-0 with just over a minute remaining in the 4th quarter. Judge finally got the ball moving with Mike Van Horn leading the way with his legs and arm as they would utilize the screen game and with Tep using back ups on defense they finally got some traction leading to a Van Horn 6 yard TD run. John Westfield would add the extra point and the clock would run out giving Imhotep another 5A City Title game.
In the post game speech Tep Coach Dev Johnson told his team to celebrate and get the post game fun out their system in 24 hours and be prepared for a great week of practice as they’ll be totally locked in on the next opponent which happens to be their state playoff kryptonite Cathedral Prep. For those who don’t know Cathedral has defeated Imhotep 3 straight times eliminating them from state playoffs. In the first meeting Imhotep actually easily defeated Cathedral 40-3 to become the first Public League team to win a football state title. In 2016 Cathedral Prep stormed back from a 20-9 deficit to rally off 18 straight points in the 4th quarter to defeat Tep 27-20 in the state 4A title game denying them a back to back state title. In 2017 Cathedral would go on to defeat the Panthers 38-28 in a 4A title game. Both teams would make it again to the 4A title game with the Ramblers easily defeating the Panthers 38-7 in 2018.
Concluding his post game speech Coach Dev told his team “This is personal” and after 3 straight defeats including 2 straight blowouts I’m sure Tep will be prepared for an all out battle. They enjoyed winning the city title Saturday evening and by Sunday they were fully engaged in preparing physically and mentally for what they refer to as “The Team from Erie”. Their motto is “Best Is The Standard” and they’ll need to play their best to reverse their recent fortune against “That Team From Erie”. Stay tuned for my in-depth game preview later this week as the game is set to be played Saturday at 3pm at Bald Eagle High Stadium.
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