High School Football:
Tuesday, December 14, 1999
By Art Redd
Whenever you hear the word "touchdown", several images come to mind. One could be the quarterback dropping back for a touchdown pass or a spectacular run that sends the fans out of their seats. In order for those plays to happen, the responsibility starts with those guys at the front line. The offensive line from Camden Catholic represent all linemen who rarely get recognized for a job well done after that scoring drive.
Now with the championship college bowl games and the NFL big dance coming up, there is a lot of football still to watch. With the area high school football players watching these games, they can only hope that one day they will be the ones on the television. When sitting down with the Irish offensive line, you could tell that they were recognized by their teammates when that 65-yard touchdown pass was accomplished. The ever-so outspoken Nate Govan, Brian Wilson, Matt Wilson, Nick DiBraccio, Brian Bennett and Alex Stephenson were getting their chance to shine in the spotlight for all linemen throughout the high school level.
When asked about how they felt when the quarterback gets most of the attention, there was a lot to be said. "He knows who his bread and butter is. When it comes down to it, he [Brian Cassano] knows without his offensive line, he throws to nobody and no one catches the football". These were the words from junior right guard Nate Govan. Sitting down with the Irish offensive line, you can tell that each one shared a special relationship with each other. "We trust each other. I know what he [Govan] is doing before he does it and vise versa", mentioned junior offensive tackle Brian Bennett.
This unit never once felt like there were not apart of the success their team had this season. Each team member made sure each one was congratulated for his job well done. In fact, senior quarterback Brian Cassano showed his appreciation for his offensive line by giving each one a sweat jacket with the words "Irish Hogs" on them. "The sweatshirts were our quarterback's idea. He said we have been protecting him all year really well except for a few games here and there", junior offensive tackle Alex Stephenson proudly mentioned.
This offensive did get recognized for their achievements. Brian Wilson made All Conference first team honors while Nick DiBraccio achieved the second team honors for the offensive line. Since most of the players play both sides of the line, Alex Stephenson picked up All Conference first team for a defensive tackle and Matt Wilson picked up second team honors for the linebacker position.
"We worked harder as a team. Our coaches pushed us hard and we started trusting each other a lot more this year", said Govan about the success the Irish has had this year. It showed with the honorable mentions that the whole Camden Catholic team received. "With the system that was new last year, we have had more of an understanding of it this year", DiBraccio (senior) added. Senior Brian Wilson summed up that bond each one shared by saying, "We all have a trust for each other. It's like family here. Everyone knows what each other is thinking while we are on the line. We just know and react to each other."
The Irish team made it into the second round of the playoffs this year which accounts for the big turnaround from last year. Their record didn't show the close games that they could have won, but the outspoken right guard had this to conclude: "Like our coach said, there are no such things as moral victories anymore. Certain games we should have won, could have won but we didn't. That's where we have to grow as a unit."
Photos by Art Redd
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