Farrell enjoying tremendous run
Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic’s opponent Thursday in the PIAA Class 1A championship is no stranger to Marauder faithful.
Farrell is the defending state champion, and BG actually defeated the Steelers for the 2015 PIAA title, 35-0. More recently, Bishop Guilfoyle edged Farrell, 55-52, in the PIAA Class 2A boys basketball quarterfinals during its run to the state championship game this past March.
But the team the Marauders will see at Hersheypark Stadium at 1 p.m. Thursday will be completely different.
All of the players from he 2015 game have graduated, and the Steelers are a much different football team than they were even a year ago.
Kyi Wright, a star on last year’s basketball team as well, and Christian Lewis starred for Farrell in its 55-20 victory over Lackawanna Trail in last year’s title game, but both have graduated. The pair combined to rush for 382 yards in last year’s final. Also gone is former head coach Jarrett Samuels.
The style of play, though, has not changed.
“We lost a lot from last year, both players and our head coach, but most of the staff was back including both coordinators and myself being on the staff the last eight years,” said first-year Farrell coach Anthony Pegues, who was the Steelers quarterback in 1995 when they won a state title. “The kids were used to me leading them, so it was a smooth transition, and we also we still have multiple DI guys back.”
Most of those future or potential Division I stars are on the offensive line.
That line has helped sophomore Anthony Stallworth run for 1,656 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jaden Harrison, who saw limited action in last year’s title game, needs just 16 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and has 12 touchdowns.
Perhaps the biggest change Farrell made this season though came after it started. The Steelers opened with losses to University Prep and a 40-0 setback to Wilmington before making a quarterback switch from Christian Hartley to Raymond Raver Jr. Since that move, Farrell is 13-0 and is outscoring its opponents, 526-44. That includes an eight-game shutout streak in which the Steelers outscored their opponents, 390-0.
Raver Jr. has thrown for 942 yards and 14 touchdowns and run for 537 yards and nine scores.
“The difference (since the start of the season) has been the senior leadership,” Pegues said. “We had a lot of new guys starting, and at the quarterback position, when the change was made, that’s when we really took off.”
One of the most recent teams to play Farrell is District 5 champion Tussey Mountain, which lost to the Steelers 60-14 on Nov. 16 in the state playoffs.
“Farrell is a single-A team with 5A talent across the board,” Tussey Mountain coach Anthony Sottasante said. “They are extremely fast and physical, but I think BG can play with them. The key is for them to get off to a good start and out-execute them. Whenever you play a team that is so talented, you have to play with more desire and effort than them.”
Thursday will mark the sixth time Farrell has played for a PIAA state football title (1990, 1995, 1996, 2015, 2018, 2019).
“It will mean so much for this district, for the city and for these kids to repeat,” Pegues said. “It would show the sense of accomplishment after some didn’t give us a chance.”
Who: District 10 champ Farrell (13-2) vs. District 6 champ Bishop Guilfoyle (12-2)
Where: Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey
When: Thursday, 1 p.m.
Coaches: Farrell–Anthony Pegues (13-2, first year); Bishop Guilfoyle–Justin Wheeler (99-21, ninth year)
TV: PCN and pcntv.com/sports