Back on track

Judge re­bounds from Week 1 loss by blank­ing Coun­cil Rock South to give head coach Mike McKay his first vic­tory.

  • Junior quarterback Zach Carroll fires a pass in Judge’s first victory of the season.

  • Running wild: Judge senior running back Marquis Seamon (center) carried 12 times for 74 yards and a score in the Crusaders’ 31-0 win over Council Rock South. Judge bounced back following a Week 1 loss to give head coach Mike McKay his first victory.

  • Lineman and captain Tom Bayer revels in the 31-0 victory with teammates. PHOTOS BY MARIA POUCHNIKOVA AND BILL ACHUFF

Deep down, Tom Bay­er knew there was a very good chance that he would be named a team cap­tain.

But as he has done throughout his young life, the Fath­er Judge High School seni­or two-way line­man re­fused to con­sider the mat­ter a done deal.

“I nev­er want to take something for gran­ted,” Bay­er said. “I don’t look too far ahead. I kind of saw it com­ing, but I feel more com­fort­able tak­ing things one at a time in­stead of as­sum­ing any­thing.”

It was that type of ma­tur­ity that led Judge’s coach­ing staff to choose Bay­er and seni­or team­mates Joe Nig­ro (line­back­er) and Mar­quis Sea­mon (run­ning back/de­fens­ive back) as this year’s cap­tains. When told of the hon­or about three prac­tices in­to the sea­son, Bay­er was “in­cred­ibly ex­cited.”

“Hear­ing it, even though I do think of my­self as a lead­er, was still a sur­prise,” he said. “It is a really big hon­or.”

On Sat­urday night at North­east High School, Bay­er and his team­mates played in­spired foot­ball. Their 31-0 vic­tory over Bucks County’s Coun­cil Rock South was thor­ough from the open­ing snap, par­tic­u­larly in the second half.

Re­ceiv­ing his first vic­tory was first-year coach Mike McKay. He de­flec­ted his own plaudits by ex­tolling the ef­forts of his coaches and play­ers.

“I was hop­ing it would have come the week be­fore, but of course it is still spe­cial,” said McKay, a 1976 Judge grad who quar­ter­backed the Cru­saders to the 1975 Cath­ol­ic League and city cham­pi­on­ships un­der le­gendary coach Whitey Sul­li­van. “I was cer­tainly look­ing for­ward to it.”

At cen­ter, Bay­er an­chors an of­fens­ive line that has helped the Cru­saders amass 460 yards in two games. Aided by tackles Kev­in Lang and Tim Breslin, guards Dan Sipps and Jeff Mills, and ends Jim Galasso and Matt Cun­ning­ham, the Cru­saders gained 303 yards on 24 car­ries against Coun­cil Rock South.

In an open­ing-week 30-22 loss to Epis­copal Academy, Sea­mon con­trib­uted 139 yards and a touch­down on 17 car­ries. Versus Coun­cil Rock South, sopho­more Yeedee Thaen­rat did even bet­ter, fin­ish­ing with 216 yards and two touch­downs on only eight car­ries.

A two-way starter since his ju­ni­or year, the 6-foot, 235-pound Bay­er sum­mar­ized run block­ing as an of­fens­ive line­man’s dream.

“You don’t have to worry about any­thing,” Bay­er said. “You just go out there and knock people on their butts.”

The same strategy was util­ized against Coun­cil Rock South. Frus­trated by their in­ab­il­ity to sus­tain con­sist­ent yard­age on the ground, the Golden Hawks (0-2) were able to de­vel­op some mo­mentum through the air via their wish­bone of­fense that Fath­er Judge had prac­ticed to counter throughout the pre­ced­ing week.    

However, whenev­er the Golden Hawks moved in­side Judge’s ter­rit­ory, the Cru­saders tightened their grip. They turned a 7-0 half­time lead in­to a rout be­hind three long touch­down runs of 63, 51 and 61 yards — the first two by Thaen­rat and the third by Sea­mon (12 car­ries, 74 yards) — as well as a 26-yard field goal by Con­nor Fo­ley.

Des­pite play­ing without an in­jured Nig­ro, the Cru­saders won by shutout for the second time in three games; they had de­feated Lin­coln, 41-0, in last fall’s Thanks­giv­ing Day sea­son fi­nale. They have now blanked op­pon­ents in 10 of the last 12 quar­ters, and six straight.

Join­ing ends Cun­ning­ham and Jow­ell Agyedu, line­back­ers Shawn Scor­naien­chi, Tim Mc­Monagle and Galasso, Bay­er and fel­low tackle Eric Drains helped lead the charge de­fens­ively as well. Against a sec­ond­ary primar­ily manned by Matt Hartigan, Prince Smith, Thaen­rat and Sea­mon, Coun­cil Rock South gained what proved to be in­sig­ni­fic­ant yard­age.

“We got caught a couple of times with play-ac­tion passes, but I thought we did a great job stop­ping their run game, par­tic­u­larly with our guys up front,” McKay said.

Win­ning by shutout might not have been the goal from the out­set, but by the time the fourth quarter began, Judge’s side­line sensed what was oc­cur­ring.

“It was hard not to be a part of things, but I was really proud of my team­mates,” said Nig­ro, who sprained his knee against Mar­tin Luth­er King in the second scrim­mage of the sea­son, but should be back in ac­tion in a week or two. “They played great. They were ag­gress­ive on their blocks and they didn’t let any­one pen­et­rate the line. Every­one con­trib­uted, and that’s the best way to win a foot­ball game.”

Up next for Judge is North­east, which is com­ing off a tough 15-13 loss to Coun­cil Rock North. Bay­er said he un­der­stands that the Vik­ings are 0-2, but he is pre­par­ing for a tough battle re­gard­less.

And if he no­tices any type of over­con­fid­ence from any team­mates be­cause of such a lop­sided tri­umph, Bay­er will sternly re­mind them to for­get about the past and fo­cus on the present. He did the same thing after the sea­son-open­ing, hard-fought loss to Epis­copal in which the Cru­saders, once trail­ing 30-3 at half­time, had a chance to force over­time but were un­able to find the end zone in the game’s fi­nal minutes.

After all, be­ing sup­port­ively vo­cal while show­ing how it’s done on and off the field is what be­ing a team cap­tain is all about. ••

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