• Dan Russoman

St. Joe takes down Kingsway


Kevin Mayfield (6) breaks away from the Kingsway defense on his way to a 33-yard touchdown run in last week’s game. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

WOOLWICH TWP.—Holding a one-point lead early in the third quarter at Kingsway Regional High School last week, it looked like St. Joseph Academy’s football team might suffer its first loss in a month.


The Wildcats had controlled the game most of the way, but the host Dragons had just scored a touchdown to pull within a point and appeared to have gained the momentum in a matchup between two of the top teams in the West Jersey Football League’s Continental Division.


Following Kingsway’s score, St. Joe took over at its own 29-yard line. Three plays later, the Wildcats were in the end zone, sparking a run of 35 unanswered points that gave St. Joe its fourth-straight blowout win, 41-6.


“I thought we played well defensively in the first half, but they [Kingsway] did a good job against our run game,” St. Joseph coach Paul Sacco said.


In the second half, St. Joe went to an eight-man offensive line, opening up some bigger running lanes that helped set up a few long pass completions that broke the game open.


“We didn’t want to go eight-man, but I felt we needed it to help get us going,” Sacco said.


The biggest beneficiary of the offensive changes was wide receiver Jahmeer Cartagena, who finished the game with three touchdowns, including two long receptions.


It was Cartagena’s 55-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter that gave St. Joe the lead for good, as he took a short pass and sprinted down the field to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.


St. Joe stalled on its next two drives, while its defense forced a Kingsway punt and a turnover when Ja’son Prevard intercepted a pass late in the half.


The Wildcats failed to score on the opening drive of the third quarter, and a miscue on fourth down helped set up Kingsway’s only score of the game.


Facing a fourth-and-six at their own 48-yard line, the Wildcats set up for a punt but the snap sailed over the head of punter Trevin DelGozzo, who scooped up the loose ball and tried to get the punt off but it was blocked and recovered by the Dragons at the St. Joe 27.


Two plays after the turnover, Kingsway scored when Darrell Brown broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run. The Dragons missed the extra point and trailed 7-6 with 9:13 remaining in the third quarter.


St. Joe quickly added to its lead, as a 29-yard run from Cohl Mercado and a 37-yard pass from Prevard to Mercado set up Kevin Mayfield’s 5-yard touchdown run.


After Kingsway’s next drive was stopped at the St. Joe 29-yard line, Prevard connected with Cartagena near the sideline for a 71-yard touchdown pass. Prevard then threw a two-point conversion pass to Tallen Murray to give the Wildcats a 22-6 lead.


St. Joe’s next possession began with 2:28 left in the quarter and ended in three plays, capped by Mayfield’s 33-yard touchdown run.


Kingsway was able to drive deep into St. Joseph territory to start the fourth quarter, but after Joseph Lyons hit Jacob Mason on a short completion, Mason lost the ball and it was picked up by Cartagena at the Wildcats’ 7-yard line. From there, Cartagena wove his way down the field for a 93-yard touchdown return.


“He’s an incredible athlete,” Sacco said of Cartagena, who transferred to St. Joseph this season from Atlantic City.


“He [Cartagena] is so explosive. Anytime he touches the football, he can score. I’m just glad he’s on our team,” Sacco said.


Leading 35-6, St. Joe continued to keep pressure on Kingsway’s defense and added a touchdown with 3:53 left in the game, a 3-yard run from Mercado.


St. Joe’s defense played well throughout the game, led by Murray, who had 12 tackles, and P.J. Williams, who added 11. Richard Chandler and Demarion McCoy each had sacks in the win.


During its four game winning streak, St. Joseph has outscored its opponents 190-22.


“I’m pretty confident that we can score points and we better because we have some tough games coming up,” Sacco said.


This weekend, St. Joseph will celebrate its homecoming against Washington Twp. The game will be played at 1 p.m. on October 23 at William T. Capella Field, the Wildcats former home field.


“We’re thankful to the Hammonton School District and the Hammonton Hawks for working it out so that we can play at Capella Field and have our homecoming,” Sacco said.