After being upset in the 2017 Division I state title game by La Salle, the Bishop Hendricken football team cruised to a dominant 42-6 win over the rival Rams this year to leave no doubt which school has the state’s top program.
“It’s a great accomplishment, it’s something that we have been working for since last year. A year ago, they beat us and we wanted to get it back. They worked hard,” said Hendricken head coach Keith Croft after the win. “We didn’t really know (what we had at the beginning of the season). As the season progressed we kept talking about playing as a team. We had talent, but we had to play as a team. I felt like the last two or three games of the season we really started coming together. When we play as a team we are capable of winning big games. Our kids came to play.”
The Hawks jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on touchdown rushes from Israel Emmanuel and Angel Sanchez and never looked back, as they dominated in all three phases throughout the 48-minute affair.
Hendricken extended it’s lead in the second quarter when Ethan Wurster took a reverse in the backfield and lobbed a touchdown pass to quarterback Tom Comella to make it 21-0. The Rams would score on a touchdown pass from quarterback Nate Lussier to Elijah Perry to cut into the lead, but the Hawks would get a late touchdown rush from Comella to make it 28-6 at the half.
“(The run game) was designed a little bit more. We knew that we had the better o-line. We knew with Xavier (Truss) and all the other guys that we could run the ball and it could be affective and it was,” said eventual MVP Comella of the Hawks’ potent rushing performance, which racked up over 300 yards on the ground. “The holes are just open to run through, It makes my life so much easier running the ball. They do a really good job and are really smart football players.”
“This time of year when the weather gets here, it’s cold, you have to run the ball to win championships and we knew we had to run the ball. The offensive line was going to have to be big,” added Croft.
Comella and the Hawks continued to roll as the quarterback rushed for another touchdown to make it 35-6 midway through the third.
After multiple penalties throughout the third quarter, an on-field skirmish would break out with the benches emptying. After a 5-minute delay was called to allow players to cool off, the Hawks would get right back on track and James Gobewole would finish the game off with a 65-yard touchdown rush in the fourth to set the score to 42-6 and clinch the title.
“It’s tough, with both teams its tough. It is such an intense rivalry. There’s no one to blame, it’s just physical and it gets chippy sometimes. We did the best we could and we ended up finishing fine,” said Croft.
Overall, Croft and Comella were excited to get back on top, and doing it over La Salle made it that much sweeter.
“Absolutely. They beat us last year we knew we were going to have to be hungry to get it back,” said Croft.
“(Last year) was mentioned to give us some motivation. We needed motivation coming into this game,” said Comella. “What we did today, Coach Croft gave us that mindset that this is a big game and we have to get it back for the seniors.”