By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Senior captain Connor Agostino — Egg Harbor Township’s sturdiest and best player — went out in the first quarter of Friday night’s matchup against visiting Hammonton with a shoulder injury and was in street clothes by halftime.
Still, the Eagles were down just 14-3 at the break and had stopped a long, time-consuming drive inside their own 5-yard line with a turnover in the waning seconds of the second quarter. But Hammonton put its foot on the gas pedal in the second half and never let up, cruising to a 42-3 victory that kept EHT winless at 0-7.
It didn’t take long for the Blue Devils (4-4) to put the game out of reach. Just three plays, in fact. A big kickoff return set Hammonton up at EHT’s 38-yard line to start the third quarter, and a few plays later sophomore quarterback Christian Weissman — making his first start — hooked up with Victor Solis-Mays for a 25-yard touchdown that put the Blue Devils up 21-3.
Hammonton added a rushing touchdown from Weissman early in the fourth to take a 28-3 lead, and Kevin Vandever added another touchdown from a yard out with 9:30 remaining as the lead swelled to 35-3.
“It was tough (losing Agostino), but it was no excuse for what happened on this field tonight. We talk about it all the time, how this is bigger than football and these are life lessons. Things get hard, and they will get much harder than this as these kids get older and go through things, and what is your reaction to it? What are you going to do?” said EHT coach Kevin Stetser. “These guys really need to check themselves, and we do, too, as coaches. Everybody does. Right now, this whole crew has to dig deep. Yes, we are young, and yes we are beat up, but that’s no excuse to come out and play the type of game we played tonight. It’s just not.”
With star quarterback Malachi Winters injured for much of this season, backups GianCarlo Palmieri and Weissman have had to step up. It was Weissman’s turn against EHT.
Ronald Gibson got the Blue Devils on the board first, scoring from a yard out after a muffed punt late in the first quarter. The Eagles responded on their next drive, marching from their own 23-yard line to Hammonton’s 21 before settling for a Christian Ireland 28-yard field goal that shaved the lead to 7-3. But, just two plays later, Weissman broke free on a quarterback keeper for a 56-yard touchdown that put Hammonton up, 14-3.
“We’ve seen him on film. He wasn’t their every-down quarterback but they’ve used him before. We knew they had him,” Stetser said of Weissman. “It’s just a matter of we have to execute. We have to play position, get off blocks and be willing to sacrifice. This is a hard game. It’s a tough game for tough people, and right now we need a little more of that.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN