The winner may not have been a total shock given the player who started under center for Pine-Richland, but the way in which it happened certainly was.
No. 7 St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia entered the Pennsylvania Class 6A state title game as one of the nation’s most stout and efficient teams. It exited with its tail between its legs, cut apart by both self-inflicted errors and another terrific performance by Notre Dame-bound Pine-Richland passer Phil Jurkovec.
Jurkovec led Pine-Richland to the first state title in school history on the back of a five-touchdown night — four on the ground and one through the air — as the Rams completed a 16-0 perfect season in dominant fashion. In all, he had 191 yards passing and another 84 on the ground without a turnover in a virtuoso performance.
Not only did Jurkovec control the tempo, he also helped his team avoid more drastic damage from the slippery conditions. The snow-covered field in Hershey made handling the football difficult, but St. Joseph’s finished with five turnovers while Pine-Richland lost the ball but caught luckier breaks throughout.
The Rams led 14-7 at the half, then used the third quarter as the equivalent of moving day in golf; Jurkovec ran for two touchdowns and Jordan Crawford another as Pine-Richland took control with a 35-14 lead (Brandon Sanders added one touchdown catch for St. Joseph’s Prep in the period).
“The halftime adjustments, because that was a tough game there in the beginning,” Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz said in a postgame interview televised on local Pittsburgh television. “We came out and made some key adjustments and hats off to my staff for doing some great things there in the second half. … They were pressuring us on the interior so we got the ball to the perimeter more offensively, and defensively we kept pressuring them, we did a lot of movement early.
“It’s a cat and mouse game. They’re a good staff. They look at the play, the figure it out, they counter, we got to counter back. That’s the way a 6A championship should be.”