Thanksgiving Preview: Crusaders vs Railsplitters

Lin­coln’s Mar­quise Mc­Far­land cel­eb­rates a score dur­ing a play­off game against Ger­man­town on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 28. Ger­man­town won 32-27. Kev­in Cook/for the Times

The Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln Railsplit­ters and Fath­er Judge Cru­saders both had quick post­season exits and are look­ing for a bit of re­demp­tion on Thanks­giv­ing.

The teams have reas­on for op­tim­ism.

Lin­coln has 24 seni­ors.

“The kids got ex­per­i­ence last year as ju­ni­ors. They’ve ma­tured and grown up, and have a lot more con­fid­ence,” said coach Ed Mc­Get­tigan. “We count on a lot of seni­ors on both sides of the ball.”

Fath­er Judge coach Tom Coyle likes his team’s of­fense.

“We’re bal­anced,” he said. “We’re dif­fi­cult to de­fend. We run the ball ef­fect­ively. We don’t sling it a lot, but we pass for a high per­cent­age.”

The teams will square off on Thursday, Nov. 24 on the turf at Lin­coln’s Bar­foot Bowl. Kick­off is at 10 a.m.

Lin­coln hasn’t tasted vic­tory on Thanks­giv­ing since 1989, when the Railsplit­ters shut out the Cru­saders, 7-0, in the snow.

Last year, Judge rolled to a 34-0 vic­tory, its 21st in a row in the series. The Cru­saders lead the all-time series, 32-3-1.

One bright spot for Lin­coln in last year’s shutout was run­ning back Mar­quise Mc­Far­land, who was named his team’s Most Valu­able Play­er for the game. This sea­son, Mc­Far­land rushed for 100-plus yards in games against Mast­baum and Ger­man­town. He’s also caught 19 passes and has three in­ter­cep­tions. In all, he’s scored 15 touch­downs.

For Judge, quar­ter­back Rob Daniels and run­ning back Raul Quinones en­joyed nice Thanks­giv­ing games last Novem­ber, with Daniels passing for two touch­downs and Quinones run­ning for 103 yards and a score.

Both are hav­ing nice sea­sons. Daniels has thrown for 1,472 yards and 11 touch­downs. Quinones has scored 14 touch­downs.

Lin­coln (7-4) star­ted the sea­son with two losses be­fore win­ning six in a row. The Railsplit­ters then suffered a dev­ast­at­ing play­off loss to Ger­man­town. They split two games en­ter­ing the Thanks­giv­ing fi­nale.

The Lin­coln play­ers are fresh­er, Mc­Get­tigan be­lieves, be­cause the team’s depth has lim­ited the num­ber of guys who have to play both ways.

Quar­ter­back Miguel Sanc­hez has thrown for 1,094 yards. Joshua Mc­Clam has rushed for 12 touch­downs. The of­fens­ive line is anchored by Steve Torres, Miguel Torres and Dami­en Chin-Rose. Kick­er Amir Al­ber­ouki has a strong leg.

“We had a bunch of kids re­turn­ing, and they’ve put to­geth­er a nice year,” said Mc­Get­tigan, a 1988 Judge gradu­ate.

“The of­fense has been mov­ing the ball great,” ad­ded wide re­ceiv­er Sin­cere Merced, who has caught 16 passes, in­clud­ing two for touch­downs.

Lin­coln’s de­fense is led by line­men Rod­ney Hawkins and John Lewis, line­back­ers Dar­nell Dav­is and Mike John­son and Merced, who plays corner­back.

“We’ve got to play our game,” said Merced, who has three in­ter­cep­tions. “The de­fense has been do­ing great. We’ve stopped most of the good run­ning backs in the Pub­lic League.”

Stop­ping Quinones and Matt Smal­ley (17 touch­downs, in­clud­ing 13 rush­ing scores) and deal­ing with Judge’s size ad­vant­age will be ma­jor chal­lenges.

His­tory is also on Judge’s side.

“We don’t want to be the team to lose to Lin­coln,” said seni­or de­fens­ive back/wide re­ceiv­er Con­nor Dono­hoe.

Dono­hoe, who at­ten­ded St. Jerome Ele­ment­ary School, is the third boy in his fam­ily to play for Judge, fol­low­ing older broth­ers Tim and John. John Dono­hoe caught a touch­down pass in last year’s rout. Tim Dono­hoe, their fath­er, also played in the game.

Though the game will be at Lin­coln’s field, Judge al­ways has a much big­ger root­ing sec­tions.

“I’ve been com­ing my whole life. My dad al­ways took us,” Con­nor Dono­hoe said. 

Judge (6-4) has played a pretty tough sched­ule, with losses com­ing by one point to sub­urb­an power Coun­cil Rock South and to Cath­ol­ic League Class AAAA fi­nal­ists La Salle (twice) and Ro­man Cath­ol­ic.

Standouts on de­fense have in­cluded line­men Shawn Hartigan, An­thony Walk­er and Eric Con­dron and punter Dave Faraldo. Con­dron, a two-way first-team All-Cath­ol­ic se­lec­tion, in­jured his knee in the last reg­u­lar-sea­son game against Arch­bish­op Ry­an, missed the play­off game against La Salle and is ques­tion­able for Thanks­giv­ing.

On of­fense, John Land­is leads with 23 re­cep­tions for 409 yards and three touch­downs.

“We hope to fin­ish the sea­son 7-4,” Coyle said. ••

WHERE: Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 24, at 10 a.m.

LAST YEAR: Fath­er Judge won, 34-0


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