ARCHBISHOP RYAN 21, FATHER JUDGE 20
On the left side of Jon Ligouri's rib cage is a tattoo of a pink ribbon, with two boxing gloves underneath it, and the words, "My Mom is a Fighter."
The Archbishop Ryan senior's mother, Sheryl, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last school year. The two-way end says he thinks about her "on every single play."
Saturday at George Washington, Sheryl Liguori, with the cancer in remission, proudly watched her son play a key role in Ryan's 21-20 nonleague victory over neighboring Father Judge in the fifth annual Northeast Philly Catholic Classic.
It was Jon Liguori's over-the middle catch, made in heavy traffic and followed by a incredibly determined run to the Judge 2, that set up fullback Bobby McDevitt's score with 8 minutes, 47 seconds to play.
Joe Stock's extra-point boot, hit from 29 yards after a penalty, was the difference in an emotional clash that was delayed by cramping issues for both squads.
"It was just a matter of wanting the ball more," Liguori said of the reception. "Once I got it, I wanted to make something happen. It was only the first game of the year, but it meant a lot to the players and coaches."
Over the summer, after learning of his mother's illness, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Liguori worked as a host at a local eatery and contributed his earnings toward the payment of family bills.
"I think it speaks volumes about the kid's character," said Ryan coach Frank McArdle, whose squad avenged a devastating 28-17 loss to Judge in Catholic League Class AAAA play last season.
In the third quarter, Crusaders wideout Prince Smith broke a 14-14 tie with a 30-yard touchdown reception. But Joe Gallagher's extra-point try, following a 5-yard penalty, was off the mark. That opened the door for a taut Ryan victory.
For the Raiders, senior tailback Samir Bullock carried 32 times for 140 yards and a score. "He's just a great rusher," Liguori said. "He can break it long on any play."
On offense, Liguori, a 17-year-old from Morrell Park, was joined up front by center Sean Devine, guards Ryan Kidwell and John Ferry, and tackles Brendan Ruskowski and Kevin Schaeffer.
After forcing Judge to punt with 6:20 remaining, Liguori and company ran out the clock with an 11-play series that included four first downs.
In the second quarter, after Ryan went in front on Matt Romano's 25-yard strike to wideout Seneca Williams, Smith responded for the Crusaders with an 84-yard kickoff return that forged a 14-14 tie.
Father Judge 7 7 6 0-20
Archbishop Ryan 0 14 0 7-21
FJ: Yeedee Thaenrat 3 run (Joe Gallagher kick)
AR: Samir Bullock 4 run (Joe Stock kick)
AR: Seneca Williams 25 pass from Matt Romano (Stock kick)
FJ: Prince Smith 84 kickoff return (Gallagher kick)
FJ: Smith 30 pass from Zack Carroll (kick failed)
AR: Bobby McDevitt 2 run (Stock kick)