FRANKLIN TWP. - The focus was there from the very start.
The Hammonton High School football team put its foot on the pedal and never stepped off Friday night.
Two plays, touchdown.
And after a blocked punt, three more plays and a second score.
Saying that it was a “huge win for our program,” first-year coach Jim Raso couldn’t have been more pleased following the Blue Devils’ 34-0 thrashing of top-ranked and previously undefeated Delsea in a key West Jersey Football League National Division showdown on Oct. 23.
The Blue Devils (7-0) dominated in all phases and secured at least a share of the division title.
“Words can’t even describe it. ... It was just an unbelievable win, unbelievable effort from everyone top to bottom,” Raso said.
“The kids did an unbelievable job. All they wanted to do was fight their butts off. They wanted it. All week in practice, they had that look in their eyes. We were going to give it everything we’ve got, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Junior quarterback Malachi Winters ran for touchdowns of 65 and 41 yards, while also delivering a 27-yard TD strike to Izick Flores on 4th-and-9 late in the third quarter.
“The past couple of games, I really didn’t carry the ball that much,” said Winters, who rushed for a game-high 114 yards on six attempts. “I was able to use my full potential today.”
Zac Barnard and Mitch Vitali added TD runs of 2 and 21 yards as Hammonton built a 20-0 halftime lead.
Hammonton rushed for 236 yards on 34 carries, finishing with 268 yards of offense.
“You have to give them all the credit in the world,” Delsea coach Sal Marchese said. “They were prepared offensively, defensively. What I saw out there was a hungry football team. That team came out and played, they came out and executed.
“We did the opposite.”
Defensively, the Blue Devils were stellar. Led by defensive end Sean Collins and Barnard at linebacker, they held the Crusaders to just 136 yards of total offense. Delsea came into the night averaging 397 yards on the ground and finished with just 105.
“The kids all did their assignments,” Raso said. “They were going to earn everything.”
“We ran a lot of option and we didn’t execute in our reads, in our blocking,” Marchese said. “It seemed like every play, someone broke down.
“You can’t make mistakes against a good football team, a disciplined football team. Hammonton is not going to beat itself. They came in here wanting this football game more than we did. They played harder right from the get-go.”
Last year’s 17-14 loss proved to be the biggest motivating factor. The taste was still there, finally dissipating when the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard clock.
“We had to come here and make a statement,” said Vitali, who rushed for 54 yards on five carries. “Last year we were 6-0 and they came into our house and beat us. We had to come in here and make a name for ourselves.
“We were more focused than in any other game. We knew it was going to be a big, tough game.”
Said Collins: “Last year, we had them. That feeling was horrible. We weren’t going to feel like that this year. Everybody knew their roles.”