Imhotep coach no stranger to South Fayette

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Imhotep Charter head football coach Albie Crosby is familiar with South Fayette.

As an assistant coach at West Catholic in Philadelphia for 11 seasons, Crosby was the offensive coordinator for the Burrs when they played South Fayette in the 2010 PIAA Class AA state championship game. West Catholic defeated South Fayette, 50-14, behind a power rushing attack that accumulated 407 yards.

After taking the head coaching job at Imhotep last year, it did not take long for Crosby to breathe life into the Panthers’ football program. In his first season at Imhotep, Crosby led a dominant Panthers team to the PIAA semifinals where they lost to Wyomissing, 35-13. Wyomissing went on to defeat Aliquippa for the state title.

This year, the Panthers (12-2) are headed to Hershey. Imhotep Charter, the first Philadelphia public school to reach the state football finals, will face South Fayette (15-0) Saturday at noon. Neither school has won a state football championship.

With kids coming from a mixture of middle-class homes and low-income housing in inner-city Philadelphia, Crosby’s message to the team was to ignore your economic upbringing and take advantage of the rare opportunity. Whether you come from a single-parent home or a wealthy family, social class does not dictate happiness. Moments such as winning a state championship do.

“Kids have different stories and different problems,” Crosby said. “All young folks getting the chance to experience something like this is an amazing opportunity. They have an opportunity to go to Hershey, have a goal and see it come true.”

Imhotep’s team is a mirror image of West Catholic’s in 2010. The Panthers use a stable of NCAA Division I prospects to run a balanced pro-style offense. To open the season, Imhotep traveled to Youngstown, Ohio, to play perennial powerhouse Cardinal Mooney, which lost last week in the state final. Imhotep dominated Cardinal Mooney in a 49-21 win.

Leading the way for Imhotep is a stable of running backs who have accumulated 4,237 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns this season. Junior Nas Bonner, who has 1,149 yards and 15 touchdowns, already has several Division I offers including one from West Virginia. Sophomore Mike Waters, a power runner, has 892 yards and 13 touchdowns, while speedy sophomore Tyliek Raynor has complimented the pair with 902 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Defensively, Imhotep senior defensive back DeAndre Scott, an Arizona State commit, will be tasked with defending South Fayette junior quarterback Brett Brumbaugh and the Lions’ prolific passing game. Brumbaugh has thrown for 3,618 yards and 38 touchdowns. Scott also plays running back and had a 75-yard touchdown run in Imhotep’s 20-0 win over Berks Catholic in last week’s semifinals.

The Panthers are no stranger to playing against high-profile quarterbacks. Imhotep defeated La Salle College (40-28), which is led by Kyle Shurmur, the son of Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The Panthers’ lost 36-28 to Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.), which has USC commit David Sills at quarterback.

Scott attributes the new winning philosophy at Imhotep Charter to Crosby and his coaching staff. While the school’s last head coach, Mike Wilson, was tasked with balancing coaching duties and responsibilities as a staff member at the school, Crosby is able to dedicate his time to helping his players on and off the field.

Scott knows that the impact of Saturday’s outcome will not be limited to the student body at Imhotep Charter. As the first Philadelphia public school to make it to Hershey, Scott and the Panthers are tasked with representing a city that is known more for its basketball than its high school football.

“We really made progress during my time here and winning last week was wonderful,” Scott said. “It’s my last year of high school and I’m going to Hershey. I’m just ready to see the chocolate. It’s really exciting because the first public school to make it to Hershey from Philly. Everybody is looking at Imhotep to put on for Philly and we don’t want to disappoint them.”

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