The St. Joseph High School football team returned to basics and the win column on Sept. 18.
The Wildcats rolled over Absegami 68-28 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score may indicate.
A week after having its 21-game winning streak snapped by rival St. Augustine, St. Joseph picked up its first win of the season by scoring nine rushing touchdowns. The defense also held Absegami to one score in the first half, which helped the Wildcats take a 40-7 lead at halftime.
Sencere Tapp helped the defense by returning a fumble 16 yards for a score in the second quarter.
“We played much better defensively,” St. Joseph coach Paul Sacco said. “We put some smaller, quicker kids up front. We didn’t try to do a lot. We tried to stay basic. Because of the inexperience, it takes longer in practice. We have to take it slower. But the kids did a much, much better job.”
The Wildcats also moved A’Laam Horne from tailback to fullback and it paid off right away. The move was made in order to stop defenses from just stacking the perimeter to stop the speedy Horne.
The senior back rushed for 203 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground, including a 59-yard run.
“It was good for us offensively to put things together,” Sacco explained. “We put A’Laam Horne at fullback because teams are just crowding the outside, coming off the edges. We have always been known for our inside game and he got it done for us.”
Twin brother and quarterback Salaam Horne also had a standout game, scoring on runs of 33, 18 and 9 yards. DeAndre Kennedy scored on an 85-yard run, and Joe McKillop scored from 14 yards out in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats, who feature four senior starters, needed to right the ship after suffering a season-opening loss. The players answered with a win over an experienced Absegami team that was coming off a win and playing at home.
The Wildcats host Millville on Sept. 26. The Thunderbolts, who also lost to St. Augustine, are 1-1 with a win over Mainland.
“They have a good quarterback, great skill kids and as usual, a big offensive line so it’s tough to get to the quarterback most of the time,” Sacco explained. “They seem to be more of a passing team now. That’s the key to make sure we put the right kids in position to stop those kids. They run crisp routes and the quarterback throws the ball on the money. The key is to get our ground game going and start to throw the football more.”