Hogs’ offensive line lead unbeaten start to season
St. Joseph will play at Dalling Field for the third consecutive week when coach Joe Della Vecchia’s Cadets take on Staples Saturday at 11 a.m.
“We’re happy to be at home felt like we were on the road for a long time,” Della Veccia said of his 7-0 team, ranked No. 2 in the GameTime CT poll. The Hogs traveled for 4-of-5 weeks to open the season.
St. Joseph have averaged 50 points per game, and standout running back Jaden Shirden knows what direction to tip his helmet toward.
“Without them, some of the plays we make wouldn’t be possible,” said Shirden, who has run for 768 yards and 12 touchdowns. “I always thank them (the O-line) first, they do a great job. They are the reason we can run the ball, as well as pass.”
Nick DiIorio heads up the O-Line from his center position. The senior teams up with classmate Chris Kiley, and juniors Dennis Elrod, Kenny Martin and Brian Robertson to block for an attack that is averaging 363 yards per game.
“We’re all best friends on and off the field, watch film, and hang out,” said DiIorio, a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder. “We are basically a brotherhood.”
Playing the O-Line takes a specific species of player, and coming together as one unit is important.
“Chris and me are returning starters,” DiIorio said. “Dennis and Kenny were already blended in last year because of injuries. Brian has stepped in and we’ve kept on moving. When Chris was out early this season, Joe Snyder came in. We all did O-Line camp when they have 7 on 7 (in the summer). We lifted and ran every day.”
Quarterback Jack Wallace has thrown for 1,251 yards and 22 touchdowns.
“I think he can play any position, honestly,” DiIorio said of the former defensive back. “Jack knows what we’re doing. He understands everything we are trying to do, understands what the wide receivers are trying to do. Once we get it clicking, it just keeps moving.”
Wallace has a wealth of receivers. Brady Hutchison has caught 25 passes, good for 459 yards and 7 touchdowns. Will Diamantis has 9 touchdowns, thanks to 20 receptions (450 yards). Owen DaSilva is Mr. Efficiency, with 7 catches, 175 yards and 3 scores. Austin Jose has 122 yards receiving on 5 catches and 2 touchdowns. Shirden has been on the receiving end of 8 passes (119 yards, 2 TDs).
“It is one of the best feelings of the world (after a score),” DiIorio said. “We know deep down we are part of that. We just try to keep playing our game, hopefully, we keep scoring, and hopefully the defense keeps stopping them.”
The Hogs’ varsity and reserves defense have allowed only 51 points.
Alex Pagliarini leads from his liebacking position with 40 tackles. Attacking backer Cole daSilva has 36 tackles, 9 for losses. Fellow backer Dennis Rotunno leads the team with 9.5 tackles for losses among his 36 stops.
The front three of Mike Morrissey, Cayden Porter and Jermaine Williams wreck their own kind of havoc.
Morrissey has 5 quarterback sacks among his 27 tackles. Porter has 23 tackles, Williams has brought down 21 ball carriers, with 7.5 of his tackles going for losses.
Jack Coughlin, Justin Williams, Maxwell Warren and Preston Kral lead the secondary.
Coughlin has 28 tackles with an interception. Williams has made 18 stops and intercepted 2 passes. Warren has 3 interceptions. Kral, Pagliarini and Rotunno have 1 pick each.
Austin Jose has been good on 39-of-40 conversion kicks and 1-of-two field goal attempts. He has put 33 of his kickoffs into the end zone.
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