Philadelphia High School Football
Hats Off to Stratts . . .
George Stratts won two Catholic League football
championships 18 years apart -- overall in 1982 at
Cardinal Dougherty, Red Division (higher enrollment) in 2000 at Cardinal O'Hara.
George, a product of St. James, in Chester, coached for 25 total seasons in the CL -- four at
Bishop McDevitt (1970-73), 11 at Dougherty (1974-84) and 10 at O'Hara (1994-2003). His final
record was 147-104-10.
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Cardinal Dougherty's 1982 Catholic League Football Champs
By Ted Silary
Cardinal O'Hara's 2000
Catholic Red Football Champs . . .
By Ted Silary
Kevin Jones celebrates his TD catch . . . .
| Before an overflow
crowd of 8,000 at Northeast High, Jones posted 196 all-purpose yards
and four touchdowns as O'Hara (10-2) rolled to a 35-10 stunner, thus
wrecking dreams of a perfect season for the Hawklets (12-1).
Kevin acknowledged hearing the pregame chant.
"I knew walking over that way that they were going to start talking . . .I don't want to cuss," he said, smiling. "I know I've got 'fans' everywhere. I just try to block them out and do the best I can.
"I could care less what they say. I know who's best. "
Tom said he and Kevin exchanged no words at that point.
"We didn't have to," Tom said. "Everybody's always laying for Kevin. He took it like water over a dam. No big deal. Then he went out there and proved what people all over the country know - he's The Man. "
Jones rushed for two scores, returned a kickoff 86 yards for one and made a leaping, end-zone reception of a Mike Lomas pass for yet another. That 34-yard TD, which came on the final play of the first half, handed the Lions a 21-3 lead and, in effect, rendered the second half meaningless.
"A backbreaker," Prep coach Gil Brooks lamented.
"That was a Hail Mary, plain and simple," said Lomas, who finished 6-for-12 for 137 yards, also throwing a TD pass - 32 yards to Ryan Barksdale - on the final play of the third quarter. " 'Kevin, go long, jump up, get it. ' "
When asked about Jones' overall performance, Lomas briefly turned into an all-time babbler.
"Unbelievable!" he yelled while holding aloft the championship plaque. "Words can't explain this kid! At least I can't come up with them!
"There was speculation all year, 'Is he really the best? ' He proved it tonight! Great players play great in big games! That's exactly what he did! "
Said Brooks: "I'm glad he's graduating. He's the greatest player ever in the Catholic League. "
Jones was much more subdued. Oh, he beamed and slightly raised his voice when family, friends or schoolmates approached for hugs, etc., but with media members, his tone was mostly matter of fact.
"I knew I was going to do this," he said. "I had faith in myself and I prayed to God all week that it would happen. . .My dad kept telling me, 'Get it done. ' I did.
"God blessed me with a lot of talent. I put it to good use. "
In the teams' regular-season meeting Oct. 15, Prep triumphed, 40-27, as Ambrogi upstaged Jones with 322 yards and four TDs and even threw for a score.
This time, the Lions pounced right away. The game's first scrimmage play yielded a 62-yard gain on a flip from Lomas to a wide-open Tom Convery. Jones then ran in from the 2.
"We knew we could get them with play-action passes - we did it throughout he game - because of some things they did in the middle of the field," said O'Hara's George Stratts, who at 58 became the oldest coach to win a CL football title. He also won in 1982 at Cardinal Dougherty.
"We scored there and never looked back! " Lomas roared.
After he hit a 24-yard field goal with 4 minutes, 6 seconds left in the quarter, drawing Prep within 7-3, Patrick Kaiser sent a kickoff medium-deep.
Pat Gallagher slipped and bobbled, and the ball rolled to the right. After some hesitation, Jones picked it up at the 14, hurdled some first-wave tacklers and dashed 86 yards to TD Land.
Jones finished with 19 carries for 79 yards, two catches for 31 and the one return for 86. At safety, a position he didn't begin playing until after the loss to Prep, he was in on five tackles.
"Also playing defense made me get in better shape," Jones acknowledged. "So I wouldn't get tired. "
This season was not easy for Jones.
He faced pressure on many fronts. Trying to live up to the preseason hype. Being stalked by numerous big-time colleges. Attempting to become academically qualified for freshman eligibility (that has not yet happened). Playing through an ankle sprain suffered in the first game.
Jones finished the season with 194 carries for 1,268 yards and 18 TDs. His career rushing stats show 5,728 yards and 78 TDs. He notched 83 total TDs, four short of the city-leagues record set by 1998 Frankford grad Eddie Gaskins. Only Gaskins (6,122) is ahead of Jones in career rushing yardage.
"Things were tough for Kevin mentally," his father said. "I told him if he could keep his faith and get healthy, good things would happen.
"We finally got our heads out of the sand. We got Kevin outside and utilized him in passing situations. Nobody in the league can cover him. I saw it this summer in camps. All-American cornerbacks couldn't keep up with him. I told the coaches, 'If you want to put Kevin wide sometimes, do it. He's ready. ' "
Kyle Ambrogi ran 21 times for 50 yards, raising his season total to 2,109. In CL history, only Judge's Bill Foley (2,116 in '68) has run for more. . .Linebackers Pat Murphy (10 tackles) and Andrew Wood split the job of spying on Ambrogi, half the field apiece. . .Said Murphy: "This celebration is so wild, because the team we beat was so good.". . .Cornerbacks B.J. "Butch" Hogan (interception, two deflections, six tackles) and Chris Gray (12 tackles) and safety Craig Haywood (seven tackles, interception, two deflections) also starred on defense. . .Prep QB Mike McGann passed 18-for-37 for 245 yards and a TD on a hook-and-lateral. Jim Lachman went 6 yards. Ambrogi went the last 17. . .Gil Brooks: "We had a helluva run. "
Dougherty's Playoff Games . . .
O'Hara's Playoff Games . . .