Deandre Scott woke up bright, early and itching to play football on Saturday. Around 6:30 a.m., he reached for his smartphone.
“Just started texting my friends, my teammates. No time to sleep now. We got a game today!” he recalled after his Imhotep Panthers team drubbed the Catasauqua Rough Riders 49-0 in their PIAA AA state-quarterfinal game at Benjamin Johnston Memorial Stadium. “I was ready to go.”
Good thing for the team from East Germantown team that its captain was so hyped up.
In a remarkable first-half effort, Scott returned both a fumble and interception for touchdowns (57 and 90 yards respectively). With another interception return leading to a short Nasir Bonner touchdown, Scott had a hand in every point of the Panthers’ 21-0 halftime lead.
It was the kind of effort that made it tough for the visitors to heed the “Don’t Be Intimidated” exhortation from their bleachers before kickoff, especially with star running back Ra’von Burton hobbled by an ACL injury.
Though his team was safely en route to a return visit to the state semifinals — on Saturday afternoon, in Shillington (Berks County), against an undefeated Berks Catholic team -— Head Coach Albie Crosby was none too happy at halftime.
The way he saw it, this game could turn in their disfavor unless the offense, specifically the line and running backs, matched the team’s defensive effort in the second half. And that’s exactly what they did.
Less than five minutes into the second half, running back Tyliek Raynor answered the call with a 40-yard touchdown run. Shortly thereafter, running back Mike Waters added a 10-yard touchdown run.
Raynor found the end zone again with 9:22 left in the game. Sophomore Ramir Johnson, a converted linebacker, added a final 63-yard touchdown with about five minutes left in the game.
With good blocking leading the way, Imhotep ran for 325 yards against the Rough Riders, who came close to breaking the shutout with a 61-yard pass from quarterback Zack Bradley, who was sacked eight times, to Paryss Marshall. But, they were unable to find the end zone with around four minutes left in the game.
After the game ended, Coach Crosby lauded “a true team effort [that] wasn’t about one, two or three players” after Scott’s first-half play set the tone for teammates.
Cycling back to the halftime speech, he shouted out the running backs and offensive line for stepping up collectively in the second half.
Namely, the Panthers depth enables them to use rushers of differing styles, making it hard for opponents to prepare.
“This is where it gets difficult,” Crosby said of the Panthers return to the semifinal round where they were defeated 35-13 to end the 2012 season.
Scott said he still feels the sting of that loss.
“Last year, this is where our season ended,” the future Arizona State player said, “so every game from here on out is personal.”
Should they defeat the undefeated Saints, who Crosby deemed a very talented team after scouting them, Imhotep would advance to the Dec. 14 state-championship game in Hershey.