H.S. Football: Crestwood ready for next step in Saturday's state quarterfinals

Nov. 25—Line up the contenders for the District 2 Class 4A football title in August and Crestwood would be somewhere in there.

Certainly not first. Nor second. And, perhaps at best, a distant third.

But here are the Comets, fresh off a D2-4A championship victory and seeking to take the next step in the PIAA Class 4A state playoffs. They will play D12 champion Bonner-Prendie at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Northeast Supersite in Philadelphia.

Crestwood (12-1) has been to the state playoffs twice before — in 2014 and 2020 — and lost both times — although technically the Comets' 12-7 victory over Valley View for the D2-4A title is part of the Class 4A state bracket. Bonner-Prendie (11-1) made its first trip to states last season and lost.

"You can see it in their faces. It means everything to them," Crestwood coach Ryan Arcangeli said after the district championship victory. "To go from 3-8 to a district title through that schedule (and) go through two of them two times. You can't do that unless you have an unbelievable group of seniors and great leaders. I can't say enough about them. They're unbelievable."

Many of the current seniors started on last year's 3-8 team, so the talent was there in 2021. What was lacking was cohesiveness.

Arcangeli stated before the season and a couple times throughout there were some internal issues that, in his word, "fractured" the team. He consistently took blame for the problems.

Right now, there are none. The offense scored a season-low 12 points in the district title game, contending with 28-degree weather, a partially snow-covered field and an outstanding Valley View team. The defense, though, stymied the Cougars through most of the game.

Crestwood once again leaned heavily on its running game as running back Noah Schultz rushed for 183 and both touchdowns. The only downside to the win was standout two-way lineman Aidan Jardine suffered a season-ending injury.

Bonner-Prendie, which is short for Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast Catholic, had some adversity to overcome as well in its 33-21 victory over District 1 champion Interboro. The Friars fell behind by two touchdowns twice before rallying and shutting out Interboro in the second half.

The Friars won the Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division, and with it came plenty of honors.

Running back Avery Hankey, tackle Thaibri Rogers, receiver Zac Coneys, defensive end Mylachi Williams, defensive back Elijah Beaty and punter Austin Cannon were selected as PCL first-team all-stars. Linebackers Isaiah Sessions and Nick Smith, quarterback Justin Shepherd, receiver Jalil Hall and center Kieran Farren were second-team selections.

Hankey ran for 136 yards and two TDs vs. Interboro. Sessions had 81 yards and three scores. Coneys and Hill will be one of the biggest set of receivers Crestwood will have faced. Both are 6-foot-4. The Friars shuffle in several players on offense and give opponents several looks.

"They are really a combination of multiple teams we've played this year," Arcangeli said. "You get the unbalanced weak sets of a Valley View-type team and Berwick. Then you get some of that spread H-back game of a Hazleton mixed with a Berwick. They are a little bit of everything we've seen this year. Then you get some of that five-wide kind of look we got from Williamsport.

"A combination of a lot of good football teams all wrapped into one."

Both teams tied school records for wins in a season with last weekend's victories. Bonner-Prendie last won 11 games in 1994, well before the Philadelphia schools joined the PIAA. Crestwood won 12 games in 2014.