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High School Football:
Lancers Win the Battle of the Best Behind Haslon's Success

Saturday, October 5, 2002

By Art Redd
SJSports Staff Writer

With the merger of the Burlington County League and the Olympic Conferences, the football season has already established new rivalries for South Jersey sports fans to enjoy. Let's take today's matchup between the Tigers from Woodrow Wilson traveling to Delran to battle the Lancers from Holy Cross. This game had been marked on everyone's calendar to watch these two teams compete in the newly formed Olympic Conference Liberty Division. The Lancers would lead the entire game, as the offense was able to put points on the scoreboard against a good defense. Runningback Chris Haslon crossed the goal line four times and rushed for 203 yards leading Holy Cross to a 49-26 win over Woodrow Wilson.

When a team is predicted to be one of the best football programs in the entire state of New Jersey, each week that team is faced with living up to those high expectations. This year the Tigers from Woodrow Wilson were again loaded with talented players both on offense and defense. Last year, the Tigers were defending champs from the Olympic Conference National Division and finished the season with a perfect 12-0 record plus a Group 3 state title. There was a bit of a bump in the road to repeat that performance from last year as Moorestown gave them their first loss of the season in week 2. Holy Cross would put all the success their opponent had achieved out of their minds and play high school football in front of the capacity crowd and host of media getting a glimpse of what would be an entertaining game.

Junior back Chris Haslon's day started out with Rick Costa recovering a Wilson fumble at the Tiger 33-yard line on their second series of the game. Five plays later on a third and goal, Haslon scored the first of many touchdowns on the day as Holy Cross jumped out to an 8-0 lead after Jay Marino connected with Adam Cooney for the 2-point conversion. Wilson would respond to the challenge as they recovered an on-side kickoff attempt by the Lancers. Hussein Shakar moved the Tigers to the 39-yard of Holy Cross when Robert Webb ran the rest of the way to complete the 3-play scoring drive. Their attempt to tie the game failed and Woodrow Wilson only trailed by two. That was until Haslon received the ensuring kick and returned it 75 yards for the score.

That kind of a return would make most teams believe that their day was done, but not the Tigers. Sticking to their game plan, Woodrow Wilson put together an 80-yard drive that ended with Tareq Council connecting with Shakar for an 11-yard touchdown reception with 8:52 remaining in the half, trailing 15-12. But the scoring was not complete in the first half. Just ask the Lancers cheerleaders who had to do push-ups for the number of points put on the scoreboard after each score. Haslon would make them do another 22 push-ups after his 44-yard run up the middle put Holy Cross up by ten. This entertaining half was not finished until Wilson found success with Council's screen pass to Shakar and scored from 29-yards out and the Tigers trailed only by two points, 22-20, going into the locker room.

The Holy Cross defense gave the Lancers some room to breathe when Costa intercepted Council's pass and scored from 45-yards out. The floodgates opened as Haslon scored on a 29-yard run in the third quarter and again in the fourth on a 49-yard run. Right at the beginning of the final quarter, Rob Curley connected with Dijon Thomas on a 26-yard post pattern touchdown reception. "That was a great game competing against a team like [Woodrow] Wilson. It was so much fun and I enjoyed every play", said Curley as he walked off the field at the end of an exhausting game. Wilson would add a fourth quarter touchdown reception by Haneef Anderson. With the victory, Holy Cross remains on top with a 2-0 Liberty Division record (3-1 overall). Woodrow Wilson falls to 2-2 overall and began their uphill climb to make the playoffs.

Photos by Mark Fletcher

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