SHP Rolls on with Win over Pope John

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Coming off one of the greatest wins in program history, the Pirate football team traveled to Sparta to take on Pope John XXIII Regional High School on November 2. This was the final game in the regular season, so they were looking to end it on a seven game winning streak with playoffs looming. A win would also clinch a share of the United White Division crown, along with DePaul and Delbarton.

After winning the coin toss, the Lions of Pope John elected to defer to the second half, allowing the Pirates to begin the game on offense. This drive, however, would not yield any points as the Pirates were forced to punt after only one first down. This trend continued on the next two possessions as the Lions immediately punted back to the Pirates, who would then do the same. 

The scoring began on the Lions next possession. They were able to drive into the red zone of the Pirates, but they stalled after a penalty. They were forced to try a long 48 yard field goal, which their kicker Justin Hertlein ‘20 made. The first quarter would end with Pope John leading 3-0. 

For the third straight possession, the Pirates were not able to get anything going on offense. Forced to punt after a three-and-out, it seemed as though the Pirates left their high-powered offense in West Orange and were in for a tough game against a team coming in with a record of 1-7. The next defensive possession, however, would change the game in the Pirates’ favor.

After obtaining just one first down, a simple run would shift the momentum for the rest of the game. Tyler Cook ‘20 swooped in to make the tackle and caused a fumble in the process. It was recovered by Jacob Maurice ‘20, and the Pirates started their fourth drive on their own 43 yard line. A huge pass by quarterback Zander Zebrowski ‘20 to leading receiver Nick Gullace ‘20 led to a rushing touchdown by Myles Thomason ‘22. The Pirates were now leading 7-3.

The defense continued where it left off in its next possession. Giye Jenkins intercepted a pass by Lions quarterback Peter Delaportas ‘20. This allowed the Pirates to begin their next drive on their own 44 yard line, once again starting with great field position. Another long pass hauled in by Gullace led to yet another rushing touchdown for the Pirates. This time it was the Pirates’ leading rusher Matt Colantuono ‘20 with the touchdown out of the wildcat formation from two yards out. The Pirates expanded their lead to 11.

For the third straight possession, the Lions drive would end with a turnover. Even though they were able to get deep into Pirate territory, another interception by Jenkins abruptly ended the Lions’ hope to shorten their deficit. This would end the first half with a score of 14-3 Pirates.

The second half would be more of the same from both the Pirates offense and defense. The Lions would punt on their first possession leading to a third rushing touchdown, the second for Colantuono who was once again in the wildcat formation on the play. After alternating non-scoring drives by either team, the third quarter would end with the Pirates leading 21-3.

Yet another long Lions drive that would even get into the red zone was ended with a turnover. After almost being sacked, the Lions quarterback through the ball up and was intercepted by Andrew Mitzak ‘20. Any life that was still left was sucked out of the crowd on this play. The Pirates would capitalize with the second rushing touchdown by Myles Thomason. The game would end with Pope John scoring a late passing touchdown after running the kickoff back deep into Pirate territory. The final score was 28-10 Seton Hall Prep.

The Prep Awaits the Kickoff from Pope John

My offensive and defensive players of the game are running back Myles Thomason ’22, who had 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and junior cornerback Giye Jenkins, who had 9 tackles and 2 interceptions. They are both great examples of the fact that the future is bright for our football program. Other notable players include senior running back Matt Colantuono, who had 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns, safety Ryan Monteleone ’20, who had 11 tackles, and linebacker Tyler Cook ’20, who also had 11 tackles as well as a forced fumble.

Looking ahead, the fourth seeded Pirates will take on the fifth seeded St. Augustine Prep Hermits at the KAC on November 11 in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 state tournament. The Hermits who started off the year poorly have been just as hot as the Pirates of late, having just beaten the number four team in the state in Williamstown. If the Pirates play like they did against Pope John, with all three sides of the football playing to its max potential, they will be very tough to beat, not only by the Hermits, but by every team in the tournament.