|High School Football:
Gloucester Catholic Holds on in another City Series Thriller
Saturday, October 21, 2000
By Ed Benkin
SJSports Staff Writer
It always seems to be a classic. It's easy to bring out all the cliches when Gloucester and Gloucester Catholic do battle on the football field. But it really is the Super Bowl of Gloucester City. You really have to throw out the records when the Lions and Rams play. You really can't leave until the final minute because it always goes down to the wire. The 2000 edition of this annual city classic once again lived up to its billing, as Gloucester Catholic held off a late Gloucester rally to come away with a 14-12 victory.
"It means so much to these kids," said Rams Head Coach Steve Moraca. "A lot of them played midget football together. In high school football, you're not used to seeing so many people come out to see a game."
The capacity crowd at Gloucester High School was on the edge of their seats on a beautiful October afternoon. It came down to an outstanding defensive play by Gloucester Catholic defensive back Eric Budesa. The senior knocked away a pass on a two point conversion attempt with 1:05 remaining to preserve the victory for the Rams. Gloucester had cut the Gloucester Catholic lead to two points when running back Dan Smith plowed into the end zone from two yards out. Lions quarterback Greg Coxe tried to hit tight end Steve Huntsinger in the middle of the end zone, but Budesa got his fingertips on the pass and came up with the play of the day.
The Rams came up with the first score of the day in spectacular fashion. After the Lions were stopped on their first possession, Gloucester Catholic's Joey Lamb took the punt back 70 yards for a touchdown to put the Rams up, 6-0. Gloucester tied the game in the second quarter when fullback Dan Welsh capped a 76 yard drive with a three yard touchdown run. But the defenses took over as the score remained tied, 6-6 until the final period. It was then time for Gloucester Catholic running back Bill Boyer to cap off a spectacular day. Boyer, who gained 191 yards on 27 carries, shredded two tacklers on a four yard touchdown run, and a two point conversion run by fullback Mike Campbell stretched the Rams lead to 14-6.
"Bill is definitely a workhorse," Moraca said. "He gives you everything he has. He wanted the ball and just took control of the game."
It was the first loss of the season for Gloucester. The 5-1 Lions will need to win their next two games against the Hun School and Bordentown to have any hopes of being home for the first round of the Group 1 playoffs. The Lions are still 5-0 in the Tri-County Classic Division, and their Thanksgiving Day game against powerful Glassboro should decide the title. Meanwhile, Gloucester Catholic is also 5-1 on the season. The Rams can now focus on the Tri-County Royal Division crown. Gloucester Catholic is one game behind first place Kingsway, and the two teams will meet next Saturday. The Rams are also looking to move up in the Perochial Group 2 power ratings and secure home field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.
"We tell the kids that this team is special," said Moraca. "Beating Gloucester was definitely special. We want to keep building on that and try to do something even more special."
There will likely be plenty of success ahead for both Gloucester and Gloucester Catholic. Saturday's game had no bearing on the division races or either team's chances of qualifying for the post-season. But it was the game with bragging rights on the line in the city of Gloucester. It is a battle that generations of Gloucester residents still gather to see each year, and the 2000 edition was another impressive chapter of a classic rivalry.
Photos by Art Redd