Thomas Jefferson gridders post 3rd straight 11-1 record
The Thomas Jefferson football team won its ninth consecutive conference championship in 2014, and 14th in the past 15 seasons.
The Jaguars also posted their third straight undefeated regular season in 2014, and 10th in school history.
Thomas Jefferson also advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinal round for the 16th time in 17 seasons, and ended up 11-1 overall for the third straight year.
The Jaguars lost to West Allegheny, 41-7, in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.
“Although the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, I was very pleased with how the season progressed,” Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson’s head coach, said. “With only three returning starters on both sides of the ball, I wasn’t sure what the expectations should be.
“The kids worked hard and it was a fun year to coach. They were very close as a team with no selfishness or jealousy. I am proud of all of them for continuing the tradition of excellence. I also feel the assistant coaches did an outstanding job teaching and developing all the players, especially the new starters.”
Nine members of the team have been honored as all-conference selections on offense — seniors Austin Kemp, Russell Siess, Jake Guinn, Charles Warfield, Frankie Langan, Harrison Everley, Zach Reynolds and Derek Rothey; and junior Dylan Vissari.
Kemp, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back/linebacker, and Siess, a 6-2, 215-pound tight end/defensive end, were first-team selections on both offense and defense.
Guinn, a center/defensive lineman, was a first-team selection on offense and second team on defense, while Warfield (G), Vissari (T), Langan (WR) were first-team selections on offense.
Everley was a second-team selection at offensive tackle; Reynolds (OL) and Rothey (K) were honorable mention selections on offense.
Defensively, juniors Braden Pahanish and Ryan Scanlon were first-team selections at linebacker and defensive back, respectively.
Senior Corey Payne was a second-team selection at defensive end. Rothey (DB) and freshman Devin Danielson (DL) also received honorable-mention nods.
Kemp finished with 1,994 yards rushing, averaging 8.6 yards per carry, and 39 touchdowns in 2014.
He scored 37 times on the ground, breaking the team record (36) for rushing touchdowns in one season, set by Jon Drager in 2002.
For his career, Kemp, who missed his sophomore season with an injury, ran for 3,259 yards, averaged 8.4 yards rushing per carry, and scored 57 touchdowns.
He eclipsed two team records with 55 career rushing touchdowns and 57 career touchdowns.
Brian Baldrige had held the records for career rushing touchdowns (53) and career touchdowns (56) since 2008.
Kemp also broke Baldrige’s record of yards rushing per attempt in one season (7.9) and for a career (7.7).
The Jaguars accumulated 4,296 yards rushing in 2014, and averaged 7.6 yards rushing per carry as a team.
Quinton Hill, a sophomore running back, finished with 711 yards on 92 carries, and scored 11 touchdowns.
Kemp and Hill were complemented by Scanlon (65-488) and Pahanish (56-415).
Langan was the team’s leading receiver with nine catches for 261 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior WR Jake Stein (4-68), Payne (3-41) and Siess (2-10) were the only other Thomas Jefferson gridders to catch passes this season.
The local squad passed for just 380 yards in 2014. Sophomore QB Bobby Kelley connected on 14 of 27 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
Kemp led the team in scoring with 236 points. He also led the WPIAL in scoring during the regular season.
Rothey finished second in team in scoring with 72 points (63 PATs, 3 field goals), followed by Hill with his 11 touchdowns.
Scanlon scored five times (30 points), followed by Pahanish and Langan with three touchdowns apiece.
Stein and sophomore Zane Zandier registered two TDs; Siess, junior Ricky Daley, senior Dan Matalula, sophomore Luke Petruzzi, freshman Justin Vigna and senior Frank Gentille all scored once.
Sophomore Tommy Campbell rounded out the scoring with three PAT kicks.
Rothey was successful on 60 extra points and five field goals in 2013, giving him 111 PATs and eight field goals — 147 points — for his career.
Rothey punted 23 times in 2014, averaging 36.2 yards per kick. His longest kick traveled 44 yards
Thomas Jefferson outscored the opposition by a 505-144 margin, which included a 421-76 advantage in the regular season.
The Jaguars — who scored 70 touchdowns in 2014 — averaged 42.1 ppg offensively and 12 ppg defensively, and 46.8 ppg and 8.4 ppg in regular-season action.
The statistical team leaders on defense were Guinn, who was credited with 42 tackles and 4 sacks; Petruzzi (34 tackles, 1 sack), Pahanish (33 tackles, 4 sacks), Siess (31 tackles, 5 sacks) and Payne (30 tackles, 6 sacks).
Other defensive stalwarts included Senich, sophomore Jake Giegerich, Danielson, Jonathan Muehlbauer, Hill, Zandier, Kemp and Langan.
They were complemented by Stein, Scanlon, juniors Dillon Finley and Lance Reaghard, Matalula, Gentille and Rothey.
TJ held four opponents to less than 100 yards in total offense — Elizabeth Forward (79), Trinity (60), Albert Gallatin (8), Uniontown (0) — and posted two shutouts.
The Jaguars outscored their conference foes by 397-70 overall margin, averaging close to 50 points per game (49.6 avg.).
The Jaguars also averaged close to 400 total offensive yards per game (390.8 avg.).
Kemp, Stein, Zandier, Langan and Muehlbauer had two interceptions, with Kemp scoring twice on 40- and 22-yard returns.
Zandier also scored on a 75-yard interception return against Moon in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or [email protected].