Frankford ready for clash with St. Joe’s Prep

Ready for all comers: Fol­low­ing its 30-3 win over GW in the Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship, Frank­ford will pre­pare for St. Joseph’s Prep in the city title game. BILL ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

Frank­ford High School’s foot­ball play­ers fully un­der­stand the op­por­tun­ity that awaits them.

By vir­tue of dis­patch­ing George Wash­ing­ton, 30-3, in Sat­urday’s Pub­lic League Di­vi­sion AAAA cham­pi­on­ship, the Pi­on­eers will play Cath­ol­ic League AAAA cham­pi­on St. Joseph’s Pre­par­at­ory School in the PI­AA Dis­trict 12 fi­nal.

As the an­ti­cip­a­tion of Sat­urday’s con­test con­tin­ues to build, sev­er­al Pi­on­eers re­peated a fa­mil­i­ar man­tra: in or­der to be con­sidered the best, you need to beat the best.

“No mat­ter how much talk­ing teams do, it doesn’t mean any­thing come game time,” said Frank­ford two-way ju­ni­or end Shareef Miller. “Really, there’s a lot of talk­ing be­fore games, es­pe­cially be­fore big ones like this. All of that is for­got­ten at kick­off.”

And if the Pi­on­eers should pre­vail?

“Well, then we can talk be­cause we would have backed it up,” Miller said. “Un­til then, we know we have a tough game com­ing up, and the only thing we are fo­cus­ing on is mak­ing this a good prac­tice week and be­ing pre­pared to play our best.”

Told about Miller’s um­mary, seni­or run­ning back Dami­on Samuels con­curred.

“Oth­er than prac­ti­cing and be­ing pre­pared, there is noth­ing more we can do,” Samuels said. “I’m sure they (the Prep) are feel­ing the same way.

“Both of us have played in big games so we know what is at stake. We both play in very com­pet­it­ive leagues, and both of us are cham­pi­ons. We proved that we were the best team in the Pub­lic League and they did the same thing in the Cath­ol­ic League. Now we get to see who is bet­ter.”

Samuels ap­peared ex­tremely ex­cited about the chal­lenge.

“How can you not be?” he asked.

A few yards away, seni­or quar­ter­back Mar­quise Po­ston was fin­ish­ing an in­ter­view. The ques­tions con­cerned Frank­ford’s early sea­son struggles and sub­sequent dom­in­ance. After los­ing their first three games to tough non-league foes, the Pi­on­eers re­boun­ded to win sev­en straight.

They have an op­por­tun­ity to in­crease that streak to eight, fol­lowed by a trip to the PI­AA state play­offs.

“As much as it was great to­night, I’m already look­ing for­ward to the Prep game,” Po­ston said. “The Prep is a great team. We know that. We think we’re a pretty great team, too.

“We’re talk­ing city title here. This is big. Really big. It doesn’t get much big­ger than this.”

The Prep is 8-2 over­all and has cap­tured sev­en of its last eight games. Among the Hawks’ feats is trav­el­ing to Texas and de­feat­ing Dal­las Je­suit Prep in their sea­son open­er and ul­ti­mately top­pling five-time de­fend­ing Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on La Salle twice — once in the reg­u­lar sea­son and again in the cham­pi­on­ship.

Along with a dy­nam­ic, three-pronged rush­ing at­tack that has helped amass more than 2,000 yards and 22 touch­downs on the ground and op­por­tun­ist­ic spe­cial-teams, the Prep also sports a turnover-hungry de­fense that has col­lec­ted 19 in­ter­cep­tions (two re­turned for touch­downs).

The reas­on for not men­tion­ing the Prep’s vaunted aer­i­al at­tack is be­cause star seni­or quar­ter­back Chris Mar­tin left the Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on­ship with a knee in­jury and was sched­uled to re­ceive an MRI this past Monday. Sources told the Times the in­jury may re­quire sur­gery and will keep Mar­tin (1,535 passing yards, 20 touch­downs, 65 per­cent com­ple­tion rate) out of the city cham­pi­on­ship. Mar­tin’s backup, ju­ni­or Jack Cle­m­ents, has com­pleted 12 of 23 passes for 121 yards and one touch­down.

Whichever quar­ter­back is un­der cen­ter, Frank­ford seni­or two-way line­man Javez Baker-Hall will treat either just the same.

“I’m sure they can both play, so we’re not ex­pect­ing any drop off either way,” Baker-Hall said. “They’re a very good team. They’re big, they’re dis­cip­lined, and they’re tal­en­ted. I think you can say the same thing about us.”

While most pun­dits may con­sider Frank­ford a huge un­der­dog, Baker-Hall said the Pi­on­eers would be dev­ast­ated if they didn’t emerge vic­tori­ous. They are not show­ing up just to be there.

“This is what we’ve worked for,” he said. “This is the city cham­pi­on­ship. This is to get in­to states. We’ve been pre­par­ing for this since Au­gust. We’ve been hit­ting the weight room and do­ing all we can do.

“We’re ready to take it to the next level.”

Frank­ford’s num­bers sup­port such a claim. The Pi­on­eers have rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 25 touch­downs. De­fense and spe­cial teams have com­bined to take four trips to the end zone.

“We’re in this game be­cause we de­serve to be,” Miller said. “Same with them.”

A battle beck­ons. ••

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