Losing Abdul-Basir forced changes in semifinal

Things couldn’t have been going at a better pace for the St. Joseph High football team in its Class M semifinal game with Joel Barlow of Redding on Dec. 7, at Bunnell High.

Coach Joe Della Vecchia’s Cadets received the opening kickoff, and before most of the large crowd had a chance to get comfortable, Mufasha Abdul-Basir had ripped off runs of 32 and then 9 yards to move the ball to the Falcons’ 26-yard line.

Abdul-Basir’s third carry, which went for six yards and a first down, would be his last of the game, as the state’s third leading rusher coming into the game took a blow to the side of the helmet and briefly lost consciousness.

All the energy was drained from the field, as first St. Joseph Athletic Trainer Dan McDonagh worked on the junior standout before EMS personnel and then the ambulance came into the picture.

Abdul-Basir left the field on a backboard, only to return late in the fourth quarter to watch his teammates complete their 62-34 victory.

“I thought it was a stinger at the time because there was some tingling in arms and legs,” Della Vecchia said of Abdul-Basir, who is cleared to play in the title game.

Without Abdul-Basir and his 2,315 yards, the Cadets turned to Shane Miller (190 yards) and Joe Civitella (114 yards) to do the bulk of the running.

They in turn, relied on Tom Adzima, Troy Vazzano Steve Hashemi, Chris Taylor and Peter Mestre to open up holes in the Barlow defense.

Quarterback Jordan Vazzano chipped in with three surprise carries — including a 52-yard scoring jaunt — and after a sputtering stint following the loss of Abdul-Basir, the Cadets regained their swagger.