The Cherry Hill East Cougars faced off against the Paul VI Eagles on Saturday afternoon at East. The game was played in front of a 500-person crowd with limited tickets sold due to the ongoing pandemic. East was without safety Tyler Burke (‘21), while PVI was without quarterback Declan Williams (‘22).
The first quarter saw PVI quarterback Joe Gledhill (‘21) connect with receiver Nick Ocampo (‘21) early and often. The duo combined for several completions that opened up a 15-yard scramble by Gledhill for the game’s first touchdown. The extra point try was muffed.
East newcomer Mark Hendri (‘22) was on return duty today and made the most of his opportunities, taking his first kick over 30 yards, giving Seba Miller (‘21) and his offense a great starting field position. East was unable to get any momentum, though, and PVI would take advantage of the lackluster offensive performance from the Cougars.
Gledhill connected with a different receiver this drive, senior Wisler Sanon, who would catch a few balls before hauling in a bomb that set up PVI inside East’s ten-yard line. A slant pass to Logan Clark (‘22) and an extra point try gave PVI a 13-0 lead.
Hendri continued his great return day by setting East up at their own forty. A Nick Brown (‘21) run up the middle went for 15, and East headed into the second quarter with momentum. Brown would finish the day with over 95 yards rushing, a bright spot for the Cougars going forward.
This momentum would falter, though, and PVI took over after a punt by All-Conference punter Danny Yasenchak (‘21). PVI drove over 60 yards on this drive, ending with a 5-yard out route to Vincent Bannon (‘22) for a touchdown. Running back Isaiah Shafer (‘22) toted the rock for PVI’s high-octane offense on Saturday.
East would look solid on their next drive, though, as Miller connected with Justin Becker (‘21) for a gain of 26, and Brown took another rush for another first down. But one rush later, Brown would fumble, and it was picked up by Francis Brown (‘23) who returned it 60 yards for an Eagles touchdown.
The last big play of the half saw punter Yasenchak elude three defenders before getting off a punt that sailed over 30 yards downfield. Yasenchak would down his own punt, and this was a highlight-reel play for a Cougars team looking for any sort of momentum. PVI took a 27-0 lead into the makeshift locker rooms outside of East.
The third quarter began with stout defense from the Cougars. Seniors Jadon Louis and Moustapha Fall got a tackle for loss and pass breakup respectively, forcing a PVI punt. The first play from their own half saw Brown take a rush off-tackle, gaining over 40 yards on the ground. East would soon have to punt, but on the play PVI was flagged for having too many men on the field, giving East great field position.
A holding penalty and only minor receptions by Yasenchak and Hendri set East up at a fourth and eleven. During this crucial down, Miller scrambled to his left and lofted a ball down the sideline that would be picked off by the Eagles’ Jalen Boyd-Savage (‘21), who returned it for over twenty.
East would begin to put pressure on Gledhill, but it was too late as the third quarter ended scoreless and PVI took a 27-0 lead into the fourth.
On third and one from within the redzone, a Gledhill pass would be tipped by Ethan Haddock (‘23), and picked off by Hendri. Running back Nick Tomasello (‘21) would step in for an injured Brown, and he carried the ball for over 14 yards on two plays. Freshman tight end Jason Maldonado would make a big catch, and rushes by Becker and Hendri gained first down yardage again for the Cougars.
After getting stuffed on two rushes, East was set up with a third and eleven. Miller would drop back and throw a ball that was barely intercepted by the Eagles’ Bannon. Defensive plays by Michael Robinson (‘21) and Andrew Watson (‘23) helped the Cougars to another defensive stop on PVI’s next drive, though.
Miller would connect with Fall and Damian Frasier (‘22) to start another hopeful drive, but it was intercepted by Sanon on the next play. Gledhill would connect with Sanon on a slant for a final touchdown, making the final score 34-0 Eagles.
Gledhill finished with three passing touchdowns and one on the ground, while running back Shafer rushed for over 50 on his own. For East, running back Nick Brown and punter Danny Yasenchak were standout players to keep an eye on this season.
East plays at Camden Catholic on Friday, October 9th. Coach Andrew Daley’s boys are hoping to get that first win on the year, and they showed they have the drive to do it.