The Hammonton High School football team proved immidiately it was a step ahead of Moorestown during the Blue Devils’ 42-3 victory on Oct. 16.
The Quakers attempted a surprise onside kick to start the game, but the Hammonton players were ready. David Obeng recovered the kick, which gave the Blue Devils advantageous field position and led to an early score.
“We saw on film that they use a squib kick a lot so we told the kids up front to be ready for the ball,” Hammonton coach Jim Raso said of his squad, which remained unbeaten with the win. “It is something we worked on the whole week.”
A few plays after the recovered kick, Zachary Barnard, who finished with 89 yards, scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns. Barnard scored on the Blue Devils’ next possession for a 14-0 lead, and a touchdown run by quarterback Malachi Winters put Hammonton (6-0) up by three touchdowns in the first quarter.
While the offense was finding pay dirt early and often, the defense was stout, keeping an opponent out of the end zone for the second time in three games.
“These guys have the experience,” Raso said of his defense. “We have a lot of starters back. We preach to the kids to play great defense and try to get turnovers. We have been able to get turnovers. They got the experience last year and have been able to continue to execute, and normally it is a matter of time before the offense puts it together.”
The offense had no problems putting up points against the Quakers (2-4). Mitchell Vitali, who gained more than 70 yards, added a second quarter score for a 28-0 lead. Barnard capped the scoring in the first half with his third touchdown run of the night for a 35-0 halftime advantage.
Hammonton added a touchdown pass in the second half with a twist. Winters, the starting quarterback, was on the receiving end of a 34-yard touchdown pass from Josh Bevan.
The Blue Devils now enter the meat of their schedule, starting with an away game on Oct. 23 against South Jersey power Delsea Regional. Both teams enter the game a perfect 6-0 after Delsea dominated Eastern last week, 55-6.
Hammonton’s defense will be challenged as the Crusaders have scored 35 or more points in five of their six games.
“We got our work cut out for us, playing the No. 1 team in South Jersey,” Raso said. “The program does a great job and if they are not winning championships it seems like they are always in the championship. We have our work cut out for us, but we are treating it like the previous six weeks.”
He added: “Delsea may pass less than us so it’s going to be an old school, smash-mouth football games. The (offensive line) gets off the ball and the backs are strong, physical and fast. We will see where we are against the No. 1 team.”