Crusaders score fourth consecutive win

If a jog­ger happened to have passed Up­per Darby High School as two foot­ball teams ex­ited the field on Sat­urday af­ter­noon, he or she wouldn’t have been able to de­term­ine who had won the game.

So why was Fath­er Judge not in a par­tic­u­larly good mood after its 21-13 vic­tory over Bon­ner-Pren­der­gast?

“We played bet­ter the week be­fore (a 35-0 win at SCH Academy), but we didn’t play nearly as good today,” said Fath­er Judge seni­or Jim Galasso. “I’m not sure ex­actly what it was. It’s not that we played badly. It’s just that we didn’t im­prove, and that’s what we’re try­ing to do.”

Judge was com­fort­ably in front, 21-0, and ap­peared destined to cap­ture its fourth con­sec­ut­ive shutout be­fore a botched snap deep in­side B-P ter­rit­ory res­ul­ted in a 78-yard fumble re­cov­ery touch­down with only 3:13 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion, thus end­ing the team’s over­all shutout streak at more than 17 quar­ters. B-P ad­ded a 48-yard touch­down con­nec­tion with four seconds left.

With their fourth straight vic­tory, the Cru­saders (4-1) enter play in the rugged Cath­ol­ic League Class AAAA Di­vi­sion this week­end against five-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­on La Salle (Sat­urday, 3:30 p.m., at Spring­field Town­ship High School), which handled pre­vi­ously un­defeated Arch­bish­op Ry­an with re­l­at­ive ease, 28-14, on Sat­urday.  

Al­though Judge is ob­vi­ously pleased to have been so suc­cess­ful in its non-league por­tion of the sched­ule, this is the Cru­saders’ time to is­sue a pro­ver­bi­al state­ment to the rest of the loc­al foot­ball com­munity, the one the Raid­ers failed to make.

“We’re all ex­cited for this game,” Galasso said. “We def­in­itely feel like we have a chance to show people how good we really are.”

That Galasso is con­sidered by team­mates and coaches as one of the team’s most her­al­ded lead­ers is a test­a­ment to both his tal­ent and his ma­tur­ity.

When he trans­ferred from New Jer­sey’s Holy Spir­it High School as a ju­ni­or, Galasso felt like he didn’t re­ceive a fair shake to dis­play what he could do on the foot­ball field. But then Mike McKay took over for Tommy Coyle after last sea­son, ig­nit­ing Galasso with a new­found en­ergy.

“From the day I met him in the weight room all the way un­til today, Jim has been a great work­er,” McKay said. “He’s a bless­ing to have.”

Com­pet­ing as both a tight end and line­back­er, Galasso was able to spend just about the en­tire B-P game on the field. While he con­siders him­self more of a pro­to­typ­ic­al middle line­back­er at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Galasso plays mostly on the out­side.

Among those who have watched Galasso up close is sopho­more Yeedee Thaen­rat. Against Bon­ner-Pren­der­gast, Thaen­rat scored all three Judge touch­downs while col­lect­ing 105 yards on 15 car­ries. On de­fense, Thaen­rat, who leads the Cru­saders with nine touch­downs on the sea­son, frus­trated B-P’s best re­ceiv­ers in the sec­ond­ary.

Thaen­rat cred­ited Galasso for much of his suc­cess, since he re­lies on Galasso’s block­ing on of­fense and his cov­er­age/tack­ling on de­fense.

“He’s very ag­gress­ive,” Thaen­rat said. “He’s vo­cal. He’ll let every­one know what is go­ing on. He’s def­in­itely one of our best play­ers. We count on him a lot. He’s one of the big reas­ons why we’ve been so good this year.”

If a Cru­sader makes a mis­take, Thaen­rat said Galasso quickly be­comes a mo­tiv­a­tion­al cheer­lead­er.

“He tells you to just shake it off,” Thaen­rat said. “He says to go out and make the next play.”

Galasso’s level­headed­ness per­haps stems from hav­ing two older sis­ters and six young­er broth­ers. Two play at Fath­er Judge; An­thony is a seni­or de­fens­ive end, and Mat­thew com­petes on the fresh­man team.

Among the fam­ily mem­bers who make every game are dad, Jim, and mom, Joanne. Galasso, also a standout wrest­ler in the winter, wears No. 44 be­cause that was his fath­er’s num­ber when he played foot­ball.

“Our whole fam­ily is usu­ally there,” Galasso said. “Then we end up go­ing back home and hav­ing din­ner.”

Could that con­ver­sa­tion re­volve around, say, foot­ball?

“Oh, that’s pretty much all we talk about,” Galasso chuckled. “It’s def­in­itely something we share in com­mon.” ••

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