SCRANTON — Berwick has been able to mask its offensive shortcomings all season for the most part.
Then came Friday night and Scranton Prep exposed them all.
Prep put on a dominant defensive performance, intercepting four passes and recording five turnovers in all to defeat Berwick 37-7 in the District 2 Class 3A championship game at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
The loss ended the era of Berwick coach George Curry, whose 455 career victories are the most by a high school football coach in Pennsylvania. The Dawgs finished the season at 9-3.
Prep (11-1) advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in school history. The Cavaliers will play District 11 champion Saucon Valley at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium in Peckville.
Prep has been pounding teams all season with its defense. The Cavaliers didn’t allow a touchdown in their last three games. The only points against them was a safety in last Saturday’s 28-2 semifinal victory over Dallas.
“We knew we had a tough defense. We knew they had a tough defense,” Prep defensive end Thor Balavage said. “It was a battle of defenses and to see who was truly tough. We’ve proved that all season.”
Berwick relied heavily on its defense throughout the season and never found continuity on offense. The offense put the Dawgs in a hole late in the first quarter as Prep’s Kevin Holmes returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown.
“It was definitely a huge momentum changer for us,” Holmes said. “Getting the first one on the board really helped us.”
From there, Prep’s offense control the tempo through the first two quarters. Running back Ricky Morgan sifted his way through the Berwick defense for a 15-yard touchdown run at 10:08 of the second quarter. Receiver Dave Horvath won a battle with a Berwick defender for a pass to score on a 50-yard reception for a 21-0 lead with 7:17 left until halftime.
Berwick fought back as quarterback Jared Marshman hit receiver Robbie Harter with a short pass and Harter turned it into a 43-yard touchdown. The play accounted for most of the 51 yards Berwick had at halftime as Prep took a 24-7 lead into the locker room.
Berwick’s offensive woes continued into the third quarter. Horvath intercepted a pass on Berwick’s first possession of the third quarter, and Prep turned it into a scoring drive.
The Dawgs’ special teams didn’t help matters as Balavage blocked a punt, setting up another scoring drive.