High School Football:
Saturday, October 23, 1999
By Art Redd
The game with the Fighting Irish of Camden Catholic hosting the Vikings of Eastern High School did go as expected on Saturday afternoon. With the powerhouse Eastern sporting their undefeated record and the Irish showing that they can battle with the big dogs, the fans at Shamrock Field were treated to a very entertaining football game. To the surprise of everyone, Camden Catholic had stunned their opponents by going into the locker room at the half leading by one. The Vikings came out in the second half and score fourteen unanswered points to defeat the Irish 27-14.
Preparations were made all week by Coach Dennis Scuderi of Camden Catholic to find ways to stop or slow down the high powered offense of Eastern. So when the coin was flipped and the Irish winning the toss, Coach Scuderi would have to wait to see if his defense was ready to stop star running back Adam Taliaferro.
After the opening kickoff was received and returned to the 42-yard line, senior quarterback Brian Cassano lined up his offense in shot gun formation. Indicating that they were not going to just sit on the ball, the offense got the coverage they wanted. Cassano rolled right and found a wide-open Cesar Concepion that got past a fallen defender. Concepion ran toward the goal line, fumbled, regained the ball and scored a touchdown on the opening play of the game. The extra point was good and the shocked Eastern crowd experienced something they haven't seen much this season. The Irish team and home crowd witnessed a play that had them excited and sensing that this game was not going to be a blowout.
The Vikings were calm about being down 7-0 and their offense was ready to show what they could do. Taliaferro was given the ball starting from their own 34-yard line and gained five yards. Patience was still on the Vikings side and it paid off on the next play. Taliaferro found an opening and was on his way to pay dirt. Camden Catholic's Dwan Honey and Tony Gravinese finally tackled him at the 18-yard line. Taliaferro did eventually cross the goal line when he received a pitch from quarterback Darryl Scott and easily rolled in for the touchdown. The extra point went wide right and the Irish were still ahead by one with 8:32 remaining in the first quarter.
Now with their second chance against the Vikings defense, Camden Catholic had little success moving the ball and punted it way. Scott was pressured by the Irish defense that caused a bit of havoc to the offense. Eastern coach Larry Ginsburg witnessed his offense making the big plays when it counted. Now with a first and goal from the 9-yard line, the Fighting Irish defense dug in deep. A big defensive play by Mike Carlino caused a fumble that Eastern recovered. But on the next play, an option pitch was fumbled and recovered by Matt Wilson of Camden Catholic. Wilson also was involved in a critical forth and inches play when Cassano pushed right behind him and Nate Govan for a quarterback sneak and first down. The Irish drive was stalled when Adam Lesiak and Gregg Wrenn of Eastern sacked the quarterback.
As expected, the Vikings regained the lead when Khaleel Fisher worked his way through the defense on a first and goal from the 7-yard line. His touchdown put the Vikings up 12-7 with 4:17 remaining in the half. The two point conversion attempt was called back because of an offensive pass interference penalty. Unexpectedly, Camden Catholic would lead this game at the half. Mark Caputi was very much involved, gaining positive yardage on the ground. Caputi's big run to the 14-yard line with 1:21 remaining set up the next play. Gravinese found himself wide open on the right sideline for the go ahead touchdown reception.
At the start of the third quarter, the Vikings came out of the locker room with the patience and determination of an experienced winning team. Putting aside the muddy conditions the field was in, the running game continued to have success. But it was Scott who did the running when his second and two from their own 37-yard line turned into a touchdown run for Eastern. This touchdown put the Vikings back in front 20-13 with 10:55 remaining in the quarter. Scott must have felt comfortable running the ball on the wet field. On a busted play in the forth quarter, Scott dropped back to pass the ball and slipped. He regained his balance and ran straight up the middle and never looked back. This 41-yard touchdown run ended the scoring for the game and Eastern stretched their undefeated season to 6 wins and no losses.
Photos by Art Redd
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