The Berks Catholic football team will certainly have its hands full when trying to slow down a powerful Imhotep Charter squad on Saturday for the right to appear in the PIAA AA State Championship. While the atmosphere will feel familiar for the Saints, who are playing just 2 miles from home, the task will be slightly unfamiliar. For the first time this season, the Saints will be the underdogs.
The Imhotep Panthers come into this matchup at 11-2 with an incredibly tough schedule. The Panthers first loss this season came in a non-PIAA matchup with a powerful Eastern Christian Academy of Maryland. The only other loss was a Thanksgiving Day tilt with Martin Luther King, in which most Panthers regulars were either pulled at halftime or simply rested the entire game.
The Panthers offense is led by QB Andre Druitt, who has thrown for 1484 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Druitt, a junior, has also rushed for 148 yards and 2 more scores. Druitt has the pleasure of handing the ball off to fellow junior tailback Nasir Bonner. Bonner has rushed for 1088 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bonner has received scholarship offers from a number of Big Ten schools including Indiana, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. A pair of sophomores will also get a chance to carry the ball for the Panthers in Mike Waters (820 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Tyliek Raynor (771 yards, 9 touchdowns). In the Panthers passing game, they often look to target junior wideout DJ Moore, who has 786 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Moore has received offers from Buffalo, UMass, and Temple so far, but you can expect many more to come his way after the season.
The Panthers also feature a massive offensive line. Right guard Aaron Ruff measures in at 6’4” 280 pounds and has accepted a scholarship to play at Temple. At left tackle the Panthers have senior Taleem Muhammad, who is listed at 6’6” 298 pounds. Muhammad’s heartwarming story was featured on NBC10’s High School Blitz last week and can be seen here.
Defensively, the Panthers have allowed just 165 points on the season. They are coming off of a shutout win over a strong offensive Catasaqua squad. The Panthers defense is led in the trenches by senior tackle Tyrone Barge, who has received interest from Penn State and Ohio State. Their secondary is their strong point, led by Arizona State commit DeAndre Scott at safety. Nyeen Thrones is among the best corners in the Philadelphia area and has earned offers from Buffalo, Grambling, Monmouth, and Temple.
So how do the Saints get past a team that seemingly boasts nothing but Division I talent? They will need to keep the Panthers on their heels with their strong veer option. They will certainly need big plays from the likes of Chris Warren, Pop Lacey, and Cooper Kutz, but the Saints have gotten those all season long. It will certainly be fun to watch the battles in the trenches. Tomas Aguilar and the rest of the Saints line will certainly have their hands full blocking.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints have been especially tough. Players like Kobe Foy, Will Mancuso, Pietro Gaspari, Tynan DeShields, and Blake Lutz have been able to penetrate and attack opposing quarterbacks all season long.
While others on the outside may think the Saints need a miracle, they will more than likely need to just stick to what has gotten them this far. But hey, aren’t miracles what Saints are all about?