Football: St. Joe-Camden scrimmage

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PHOTO: St. Joe coach Paul Sacco addresses team after scrimmage against Camden on Thursday night.

By Phil Anastasia

Dwayne Savage knew his Camden High School team was facing one of the state's best squads when St. Joseph visited Farnham Park on Thursday night.

"That's a really good team," Savage said after a scrimmage between the host Panthers and the visiting Wildcats on a warm night at Camden's refurbished field.

St. Joseph, which looms as the likely No. 1 team in the preseason rankings, scored touchdowns on all five of its first-team possessions in building a 34-7 lead over Camden midway in the third quarter.

The Wildcats got great work from their offensive line and hard running by all four of their starting backs -- junior twins Salaam and A'Laam Horne as well as seniors Rocco Ordille and C.J. LaFragola.

The scrimmage was the final preseason tuneup for both teams.

Camden opens next Friday vs. Highland while St. Joseph opens next Saturday vs. St. Augustine Prep.

"I thought our kids did well," St. Joseph coach Paul Sacco said. "We hurt ourselves with some penalties on big plays but I thought we did a good job."

Some observersations:

-- Camden was without its top playmaker in junior WR/DB Brad Hawkins, who sat out with a bruised tailbone.

Hawkins said before the scrimmage that he would have played if this was a regular-season game.

"Why risk it just to make this score closer?" Savage said.

-- St. Joseph was without junior center Derek Lomax, who sat out with an ankle sprain.

Sacco said reserve guard Zack McGuckin did a "phenomenal job" in Lomax' place.

-- The scrimmage pitted two of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in South Jersey in Salaam Horne and Camden senior Khalil Williams.

Horne made plays with his arm and legs, skirting the corner on several occasions and completing several passes. He kept one drive alive with a long pass to Ricardo Quirindongo. Horne also returned an interception 50 yards to the Camden 5 on the last play of the first half.

Williams also was effective as both a runner and passer. He scrambled for two or three first downs, threw a long seam pass to fullback Demian Thomas and hit his twin brother, Khalif Williams, with a 20-yard scoring pass for Camden's only touchdown.

-- St. Joseph senior guards Joe Greer and Christian Snowden looked good pulling out on sweeps, leading the way for Ordille and A'Laam Horne.

-- Camden lost another key player when senior WR/DB Ja'Mir Washington was knocked woozy colliding with St. Joseph's 240-pound tackle Justin Kennedy when both players were diving for an apparent fumble.

-- Savage said he was happy to play St. Joseph both for the level of competition and for the work for his defense against the Wildcats' Wing-T offense, since Camden faces Delsea in Week 2. Delsea also runs the Wing-T.

-- Ordille made the play of the game, taking a screen pass around 35 yards for a touchdown late in the first half, eluding several tacklers in winding his way down the sideline.

-- LaFragola scored two TDs on short runs and reserve fullback Mike Merlino, a senior who also is a top defensive lineman, also scored on a short run.

-- St. Joseph's five varsity drives went like this: four first downs, touchdown; five first downs, touchdown; three first downs, touchdown; four first downs, touchdown; three first downs, touchdown.

-- The scrimmage was played before a large crowd, especially on the Camden side. Camden basketball coach John Valore and two of his top players, guards Rasool Hinson and Will McCants, were in attendance.

-- Sacco told Savage after the game that he was impressed with how hard Camden played and that the Panthers were going to have a good season.

"This was good for us," Savage said. "This is what I wanted. I wanted our guys to play against a team like that."

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