For once, speed fails Serra Catholic
HERSHEY -- All season, the Serra Catholic football team used its quickness to defeat opponents.
Friday in the PIAA Class A championship game, Serra wasn't quick enough.
Junior running back Jeremiah Young rushed for 292 yards, a record in a state Class A title game, and scored four touchdowns to lead Steelton-Highspire to a 34-15 victory at Hersheypark Stadium.
Young broke the record of 271 yards, set in 2005 by Southern Columbia running back Henry Hynoski, who plays for Pitt. Young finished with 3,444 yards rushing for the season and went over the 6,000-yard mark for his career.
"He's a great back," Serra coach Rich Bowen said. "He takes the handoff, stops and then cuts back against the grain.
"We were in position to make tackles and had a lot of guys in the box. We were trying to take him away, but you can't. He has great vision and he can play any place he wants to after next year."
Young is a Division I recruit who is drawing interest from Penn State.
Serra (15-1) had trouble with Steelton-Highspire's quickness on defense and a strong north wind. Serra received the opening kickoff and was forced into the wind.
"Maybe we should have deferred, but that's not us," Bowen said. "We have a high-powered offense and we thought we'd be able to get the ball and move it a little bit.
"The wind was a factor, and we came out a little nervous. Their defense was quick. They fired a lot of linebackers and did some things that took some kids away from us."
Steelton-Highspire (13-3), located outside Harrisburg, scored on three consecutive possessions to grab a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Quarterback Andre Campbell opened the scoring when he raced 25 yards. Young capped the next two drives, running 2 and 53 yards for scores.
Young credited his offensive line.
"I read the line and saw them slanting in, and I just took advantage of hitting the corners," Young said. "After that, it was all me and the field.
"This is the first time the whole playoffs I had to run so hard. They were a tough team, but we got the best of them."
Steelton-Highspire coach Rob Deibler said one of the keys for his team was putting pressure on the quarterback.
"We blitz a lot," Deibler said. "We were putting pressure on their quarterback. Their quarterback could never settle in and set his feet."
Serra quarterback T.J. Heatherington gave the Eagles hope when he raced 30 yards for a score to cut the lead to 20-7 at halftime.
"I wish we could have played better," Bowen said. "We played hard, but that team is very good."
Young made sure Serra didn't have any comebacks. He scored on two 9-yard runs to make it 34-7 and finish off the Eagles.
"Ever since we gave up those two comeback leads to Camp Hill and Hershey, we learned not to take anything for granted," Young said. "Our coach told us at halftime to take what we did in the first half and double it, and we almost did.
"I think since they were 15-0, they didn't know how to lose and tried to get in our heads a lot. We just ignored what they were doing and kept playing our game."
Deibler said Young has been the show all season.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime player," Deibler said. "He's got great talent and he's a great player."
Chris Loving scored a fourth-quarter touchdown for Serra when he raced 10 yards.
Steelton-Highspire outgained Serra in yardage, 399-162.
Isaiah Jackson rushed for 67 yards and Loving 54. Heatherington completed 2 of 10 passes for 24 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked four times.
"Being the second-best team in the state isn't bad, but it's not what we were shooting for," Bowen said. "They had a lot to do what was going on, not just some of the mistakes we made. We just didn't have enough points."