Gorman: South Fayette stands and delivers 1st state title
HERSHEY — South Fayette took a five-touchdown lead into halftime of the PIAA Class AA final to invoke the mercy rule on favored Imhotep Charter.
Yet Joe Rossi implored his Lions to roar once more.
“I told them we needed one stop,” Rossi said.
South Fayette gave him four, all at the goal line, against a massive Imhotep Charter front five. It was the closest the Panthers would come to scoring Sunday at Hersheypark Stadium.
“That's high school football,” Imhotep Charter coach Al Crosby said. “Sometimes it's about the will.”
South Fayette (16-0) showed its will was not only unbreakable but also unbeatable.
The Lions answered with a 99-yard scoring drive that put the finishing touches on a 41-0 victory for their first state title, a sequence that proved they were more than just the product of a system.
South Fayette heard all week about Imhotep Charter's collection of all-stars, from 6-foot-5, 303-pound Temple recruit Aaron Ruff at tackle to Arizona State recruit Deandre Scott at safety. The Panthers' front five outweighed their counterparts by an average of 70 pounds.
The Lions got in their heads from the start by using a hard snap count to lure Imhotep offside four times in the first series alone.
“We've proved that size doesn't matter,” South Fayette center/defensive end Spencer Girman said. “We're faster, intelligent, more disciplined. We knew that they weren't really a disciplined team, that they would jump offsides.”
Imhotep Charter was out of sorts until halftime. By then, it trailed 35-0. It opened the second half with a 14-play drive that included passes of 46, 16 and 20 yards to the South Fayette 2-yard line.
That's when Girman came up with the biggest plays in his final football game. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior, who is matter-of-fact in saying that colleges aren't recruiting him, was credited with two tackles on that goal-line stand, including the fourth-and-inches stop of Nasir Bonner.
“It showed their resiliency,” Rossi said, “to do that with their backs against the wall.”
Junior quarterback Brett Brumbaugh came into the huddle and saw the look in the eyes of linemen Ben Berkovitz, Zach Radinick, Girman, Zach Walker and Anthony Davidson.
“I knew after they didn't give up a touchdown we were going 99 yards,” Brumbaugh said. “And if we went 99 yards, that we'd drain the life right out of them.”
The Lions ran 15 times in 17 plays that covered 10:29 before Grant Fetchet scored on a 9-yard run.
“For them to stop us and go 99 yards,” Crosby said, “you applaud it.”
So here's a hand for South Fayette's stand and the championship drive that displayed the Lions' heart.
When it was about the will, they found the way to win their first state title.