Lions roar past Imhotep, 41-0
Claim first state title with 41-0 win
Ben Berkovitz, Ryan Schmider and Logan Sharp express their sentiments regarding South Fayette’s first state title for football as Jack Relihan and Grant Fetchet also admire the PIAA trophy. The Lions roared past Imhotep Charter, 41-0, in the Class AA championship game played Dec. 15 at Hersheypark Stadium. It was the biggest margin of victory by any team in that classification in a state final.
Justin Watson eludes Nyeem Thrones after making a reception. The senior wide receiver caught six passes for 126 yards and two scores of 6 and 64 yards for South Fayette. With 1,568 yards and 21 touchdowns, Watson shattered the district’s single season record for pass yardage. He will play at the University of Pennsylvania next fall.
Brett Brumbaugh celebrates after throwing one of his three touchdown passes against the Imhotep Charter defense that featured 6-foot-5, 303-pound Temple recruit Aaron Ruff at tackle and Arizona State recruit Deandre Scott at safety. The junior signal caller completed 18 of 25 passes for 299 yards. In the process, Brumbaugh shattered the WPIAL single-season passing record held by his brother, Christian. The pre-game hype, rather than the passing record, motivated Brumbaugh because some Philadelphia newspapers predicted a 50-6 loss for the Lions. “We put that in the back of our minds that people were doubting us,” said Brumbaugh. “People can say all they want, but they can’t measure our heart, how hard we practice or how well we play.”
Grant Fetchet (back) and JJ Walker (No. 25) keep their eyes focused on stopping Nasir Bonner, one of the cogs in Imhotep Charter’s attack. The Panthers averaged 47.1 points and 303 rushing yards per game before being shutout and limited to 23 yards on the ground against the Lions. Walker, who with his brother, Zach, led the South Fayette defense in tackles with well over 140 for the season and steered the Lions to their sixth shutout of the season against Imhotep Charter.
Grant Fetchet rushed for 58 yards and one touchdown in South Fayette’s win against Imhotep Charter. Fetchet led the Lions’ ground attack this season with 1,389 yards and 21 scores. In the game, JJ Walker also scored on a 4-yard run.
Ryan Schmider celebrates after Spencer Girman makes one of his two critical tackles to stop Imhotep at the goal line. The Panthers had taken the second-half kick-off and drove 14 plays to the Lions’ 1-yard line before being thwarted. After the defensive stand, South Fayette drove 99 yards and completed their 41-0 victory.
Logan Sharp darts for big yardage after making a reception. The junior hauled in three passes, including a 53-yard scoring strike that stunned Imhotep Charter at the 5:15 mark in the first frame.
Hayden Orler picks up tough yardage after making a reception. The senior had two catches for 20 yards. He was one of Brett Brumbaugh’s four primary targets. Justin Watson and Conner Beck each pulled in six passes for 126 and 73 yards, respectively, while Logan Sharp had three receptions for 83 yards, including a 53-yard scoring strike that gave South Fayette a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Ben Berkovitz hoists the PIAA trophy. The senior lineman, who led South Fayette in sacks this season, also anchored an offensive line that enabled quarterback Brett Baumbaugh to breaks records on the way to the school’s first state title for football. Although outweighed by an average of 70 pounds, the Lions’ line, which also included Ben Berkovitz, Zach Radinick, Zach Walker and Anthony Davidson, held its own against the Panthers. “We proved that size doesn’t matter,” Girman said. “We’re faster, intelligent, more disciplined and we had more heart.”
Prognosticators predicted a rout in the PIAA Class AA football championships. They were right. Only South Fayette, not Imhotep Charter, ran away with the title.
In recording their sixth shutout of the season, the Lions preserved their undefeated record (16-0) and claimed their first-ever state championship for football. In blanking the Panthers, 41-0, South Fayette shattered several records, including largest margin of victory for a state final in the AA classification.
“Everybody said (Imhotep Charter) was a great football team, but when you play with your heart, and play with these kinds of seniors, it’s something special,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “Their minds were right the whole way.
“There’s nothing sweeter than this,” he added. “It’s just tremendous.”
Brett Brumbaugh and Justin Watson were tremendous as they established new Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League single-season records for passing (3,917) and receiving yards (1568). They hooked up for two pivotal scoring strikes that staked the Lions to a 21-0 advantage 15 seconds into the second stanza.
Brumbaugh completed 18 of 25 aerials for 299 yards. He tossed TD strikes of 6 and 64 yards to Watson as well as a 53-yard score to Logan Sharp, all in the first half. Watson finished with six receptions for 126 yards while Conner Beck followed with six grabs for 73 yards. Beck also intercepted a pass and returned the pick for a 46-yard scoring, staking the Lions to a 35-0 halftime lead. Sharp finished with three catches for 83 yards.
JJ Walker and Grant Fetchet rushed for 4- and 10-yard touchdowns to cap the Lions’ scoring.
Imhotep Charter, which was flagged for a state championship record 16 penalties for 64 yards, finished the season at 13-3 overall. The Panthers, who had entered the game averaging 47.1 points and 303 yards rushing, were limited to 23 yards on the ground. Andre Dreuitt-Parks completed 8 of 18 pass attempts for 125 yards.
Lions roar past Imhotep, 41-0
Claim first state title with 41-0 win
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