Football: Spotlight on St. Joseph defense
Who knew going into St. Joseph’s football teams game with FCIAC rival Staples High that the Cadets’ Jude Andrzejewski would be the X-factor?
Coach Joe Della Vecchia’s Cadets rumbled its way to a 49-9 victory, and it was the St. Joe defense that provided all the momentum to keep the home crowd happy at Dalling Field.
Andrzejewski had four quarterback sacks. Not bad.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound linebacker also forced a fumble that was returned 43-yards for a touchdown by Michael Morrissey on Staples’ second possession. Pretty good.
One of five captains for sixth-ranked St. Joseph, Andrzejewski tacked on a 4-yard interception return in the final period.
“Our defense played great today,” Della Vecchia said after the Cadets improved to 7-1. “They played really well. I thought they were emotional, and they were on-task. To hold them (5-3 Staples) to nine points is something else.”
St. Joseph is seeded first in the eight-team Class S playoffs with games remaining at Brien McMahon next Friday and home to Trumbull High on Thanksgiving.
“We put in a good week of practice,” Andrzejewski said. “That’s and going over film is where the work comes in. This (game time) is the fun part. The offense and defense feed off each other.”
St. Joseph defensive coordinator said: “Jude is the heartbeat of this defense. No one puts more time in studying film and the entire defense had a great week of practice.”
Mike DiIorio, another senior captain, had an interception along the sideline to stop Staples after the Wreckers had moved the chains three times down 28-9 in the third quarter. He added a fumble recovery.
Junior Jesse Lawson had a QB sack and the d-line of Cody Yarish, Jermaine Williams and Morrissey made things difficult up front for the Wreckers.
Senior captain Connor Murphy led a linebacker corp of Phil Pasmeg, Andrzejewski, DiIorio and Lawson.
The secondary of Ace Luzietti, Darren Warren and Jack Wallace were at their ballhawking best.
St. Joe’s quarterback was 17-of-34 passing for 258 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
With the score 7-6 after Staples’ Brandon Adrian ran for a 1-yard score with a minute remaining in the first quarter, Summers showed off his ability to run the ball.
Rolling right, and with Griffin Lundquist bearing down quickly, Summers ducked back inside and scampered 60 yards up the sideline for a TD.
Luke Kirby made the second of seven conversion kicks for a 14-6 lead with 12.2 on the clock.
Summers had plenty of time to pass, with captain Jesse Veilleux, Pete Lovan, Justin Escobar, Mark Arnone and Rich Licursi doing the blocking.
Jesse Bike was the leading receiver, as he caught five passes for 133 yards.
Will Diamantis was on the receiving end of two touchdowns, first from 5 yards out to make it 21-6 at the 5:16 mark of the second period.
Staples’ Ben van der Marwe made a 35-yard field goal to make it 21-9 at the half.
Warren’s 62-yard kickoff return, set St. Joe’s up on the Wreckers’ 28 to start the third quarter.
Summers found Bike behind the secondary for a 56-yard gain to the eight.
Jaden Shirden scored on the next play.
Pasmeg had Staples QB Daniel Thompson hogtied in the end zone, when the senior got the ball out of his hands only to have Andrzejewski come up with TD returning interception. With 33.9 left in the period, St. Joe’s led 42-9.
DiIorio’s fumble recovery gave the ball to the offense in Staples’ territory, and Summers connected with Diamantis for a 29-yard TD with just under 10 minutes remaining.