Some chatted with friends and families, others looked for the few coaches and players left that they hadn't congratulated, offering a big hug or a powerful handshake. Eric Cathedral Prep is heading to Hershey, Pa., to play in next weekend's PIAA AAA championship against either Wyomissing or Imhotep Charter, the Eastern foes squaring off in Saturday's other semifinal.
And then there was junior defensive backs Felix Manus-Schell and Marlon Tyree. The former shut down Crusader leading wide-receiver and Penn State Class of 2013 target Brian Lemelle play after play, limiting Lemelle to just 49 yards on eight catches. The latter handled the other side of the field like a guard in a prison. Both strutted around in the rain with Hershey Chocolate bars in their hands, a symbol of not just their impending trip to Chocolate Town, but of their wrapped tight effort as a whole that, combined with the rest of the Erie Cathedral Prep defense (including another Penn State target in linebacker Jake Plonski), limited Crusader quarterback Alec Werner to just 107 yards on a 16-for-31 night.
This is an amazing feeling, Plonski said. Overall, it's one of the best feelings of my life.
Plonski, who recently received an offer from Robert Morris, has put recruiting completely in the background as Cathedral Prep has just kept winning.
I've been hearing a little bit from Penn State, and it's kind of all over the place at the moment, Plonski said. Hopefully once the season ends, I can focus more on that and see where I can land. But I'm not too focused on that right now, and after we hopefully go win the state title, I can focus on that and take some visit.
Manus-Schell and Tyree, meanwhile, are on the brink of beginning their recruitment, and are just starting to hear from Penn State. The Nittany Lions rolled through Erie last week to check out head coach Michael Mischler's budding prospects.
Penn State has contacted me, and Buffalo has as well. We met with a Penn State coach last week when they came to watch our practice, Tyree said.
Some prospects freeze up with coaches from the next level taking in drills and position work, but Tyree never batted an eye.
You just have to do what you do, and not try to impress somebody by doing too much or something you don't know how to do, Tyree said. You just have to stick to the basics and do what you know how to do.
At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, the junior feels he's best at working over the top and providing help to his cornerbacks while playing as a deep safety. He's turned to teammate and senior quarterback Damion Terry, who verbally committed to Michigan State, for advice on what to ask college coaches, and how to handle all the extra attention.
However, the attention from Penn State carries some extra weight, as Tyree has long had his eye on the Nittany Lions' program.
I'm actually a fan of Penn State, so it was exciting for them to come down, Tyree said with a shy grin. I was born into it, and I'm not sure why (his family) became Penn State fans, but it just happened.
Manus-Schell, on the other hand, is a bit more along in his process. With a pair of unofficial visits under his belt (to Pittsburgh and Rutgers, the two schools he says he's received the most mail from), the 6-1, 170-pounder is excited to delve more into the process after the season.
It's pretty cool, because college is an important thing in life. You need it, Manus-Schell said. And to play football at one of those schools, that makes it even better.
Manus-Schell camped at Penn State over the summer, the first camp he's attended, and came away with some new ideas.
The coaches and coaching you get are really cool, but we also worked on a lot of technique and one-on-one type stuff, he noted.
Both have one more road trip, one more game, and one championship aspiration left before they can fully focus on recruiting, But both have the same thoughts in mind when evaluating a school.
I really look at the academics. My dad has always talked about that, Manus-Schell said.
I want a school with good academics, Tyree added. And a program where I can have a good relationship with the coach, and he trust me and I trust them.