PIAA football Class 5A championship preview: Peters Township vs. Imhotep Charter

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | 7:34 PM


The fourth of six PIAA championship games features the first of two battles for state gold this weekend between schools from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh area as District 12 champion Imhotep Charter battles WPIAL champion Peters Township in another clash of unbeatens.

This is the 35th year of the PIAA football playoffs, which began in 1988.

Since then, the state championship games have been played at one site the last 31 years, first at Mansion Park in Altoona, then at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, and this is the second year the games take place at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg.

Here are some Class 5A anniversaries:

• Seven years ago in 2016: Archbishop Wood defeated Harrisburg, 37-10

• Six years ago in 2017: Archbishop Wood cruised past Gateway, 49-14

• Five years ago in 2018: Penn Hills edged Manheim Central, 36-31

• Four years ago in 2019: Archbishop Wood beat Cheltenham, 19-15

• Three years ago in 2020: Pine-Richland crushed Cathedral Prep, 48-7

• Two years ago in 2021: Penn-Trafford squeaked by Imhotep Charter in overtime, 17-14

• Last year: Pine-Richland 28, Imhotep Charter 14

Peters Township (15-0) vs. Imhotep Charter (14-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Chapman Field at Cumberland Valley HS

Coaches: T.J. Plack, Peters Township; Devon Johnson, Imhotep Charter

2023 March to Mechanicsburg: Peters Township defeated Pine-Richland in the first round (WPIAL finals), Cathedral Prep in the quarterfinals and Cocalico in the semifinals; Imhotep Charter defeated Roman Catholic in the first round (District 12 finals), Delaware Valley in the quarterfinals and Strath Haven in the semifinals

Last week: Peters Township 14, Cocalico 9; Imhotep Charter 42, Strath Haven 14

Players to watch: Nolan DiLucia, Peters Township (Soph., 6-2, 190, QB/SS); Mikal Davis Jr., Imhotep Charter (Sr., 6-0, 205, QB/FS)

Team notes

Peters Township: The undefeated season continued for the Indians as the WPIAL champions survived their closest game of the season. Peters Township scored all 14 of its points in the second quarter, then relied on its stellar defense to hold on for the five-point victory. Sophomore quarterback Nolan DiLucia was 17 of 27 passing for 195 yards and touchdown tosses of 24 yards to senior Carter Shanafelt and 14 yards to senior Thomas Aspinwall. For the season, DiLucia has thrown for 3,036 yards and 30 touchdowns while senior Vinny Sarcone leads PT in rushing with 766 yards and 22 touchdowns. Shanafelt leads the team in receptions with 43 catches for 510 yards and in scoring with 12 touchdowns, eight field goals and 62 extra points.

• Imhotep Charter: The Panthers continued their perfect season with a victory over Strath Haven in the state semifinals by 28 points. Senior quarterback Mikal Davis Jr. connected on 20 of 24 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. In that victory, the Army recruit became Imhotep Charter’s all-time single season passing leader. He has 2,233 yards and 17 touchdown passes this season. The Panthers run game is led by junior running back Jabree Wallace-Coleman, who has gained 1,373 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. Davis is second on the team in rushing with 614 yards and 13 scores.

Historic Factoids

• This is the first meeting between Peters Township and Imhotep Charter.

• Two weeks ago was the Indians’ first PIAA football playoff game, so they are now 2-0 in the state postseason coming into Friday’s state finals. This is obviously their first PIAA title game appearance.

• The Panthers are 18-8 in the PIAA postseason. This is the eighth time they have reached the state football finals and they are 1-6. Their lone victory came in 2015 when they beat Cathedral Prep, 40-3. Imhotep Charter later lost to Cathedral Prep in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Class 4A finals.

• This will be the fourth time the D-12 champion Panthers have played a WPIAL team in the state playoffs and they are 0-3. They lost to South Fayette 10 years ago in the 2013 finals, 41-0. They fell to Penn-Trafford in the 2021 5A state title contest in overtime, 17-14, and they lost to Pine-Richland a year ago in the 5A finals, 28-14. This is the first game for Peters Township against a District 12 team.

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