Billy DeMato emerges as Lancers' leader

Billy DeMato emerges as Lancers' leader

News

Billy DeMato emerges as Lancers' leader

By

He had just thrown an interception that appeared would erase his team’s last chance to defeat Manasquan last Friday night.

However, St. John Vianney junior quarterback Billy DeMato was still confident the Lancers could complete their comeback from a 29-point second quarter deficit.

“I said, ‘coach (St. John Vianney head coach Andy Carlstrom) if we get the ball back I promise you we will win this game,’ ” DeMato said.

“That’s the kind of leader you want on your team,” Carlstrom said.

St. John Vianney’s defense, which shut Manasquan out in the second half, got DeMato and the Lancers’ offense the ball back. DeMato and his fellow players then delivered. DeMato fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Nick Anzevino with 19 seconds remaining to give St. John Vianney a remarkable 39-35 win. It was DeMato’s sixth TD pass of the game.

“That’s the opportunity you live for,” said DeMato, about the chance to drive his team for the winning score in the final minute. “I didn’t want to let anybody down. I wanted to let everyone know that we could come back and that St. John Vianney was ready to play this year.”

The final TD capped a rollercoaster night for DeMato, who was 28-for-54 for 346 yards. However, he also threw three interceptions, two early in the game. Carlstrom even inserted freshman Anthony Brown for a series in the first half, in order to give DeMato a chance to clear his head.

“I was thinking in my head, when I get back in, I want to show the coaches what I could do and we can win this game,” DeMato said. “My dad has always told me, ‘Keep your head up. Forget the mistake.’ As a quarterback, you have to have short term memory. I just tried to keep my head in it, knowing I could make the throws.”

St. John Vianney pulled within, 35-12, at halftime on a DeMato to Steve Callari 18-yard TD pass. A DeMato to Julanee Prince 21-yard TD pass made it 35-19 entering the fourth quarter. DeMato threw TD passes of 41 yards to Callari and 8 yards to Anzevino to make it 35-32 with six minutes left.

“After we scored the second touchdown in the second half, I was like, ‘Wow, we can do this,’ ” DeMato said.

What DeMato, a transfer from Bishop Ahr, in Edison, where he started 16 games during the last two seasons, has done is throw the ball a ton. He has averaged over 39 passes a game and thrown for 268 yards a game passing over the first four games. He has thrown 10 TD passes.

“To be honest, we’ve gone into every game with the game plan of let’s establish the running attack so we don’t have to do that (throw the ball on almost every down),” Carlstrom said. “And by no fault of his (DeMato’s), next thing you know we’re down 21, 22-0 in every game, so, it’s OK, scrap that game plan and let’s start throwing the ball.”

The offense Carlstrom and his coaching staff utilize is markedly different than the one Bishop Ahr head coach Don Sofilkanich, the former Holmdel, Asbury Park and Neptune head coach, uses.

St. John Vianney lines up predominantly in the spread formation, with four-five receiver sets. The Lancers also utilize a lot of no-huddle. Bishop Ahr ran predominantly a Wing-T set last year, Sofilkanich’s first season there.

“I wasn’t sure (at first) whether his skills would transfer to what we do,” said Carlstrom, who utilized the triple option, flexbone alignment when he was the head coach at Holmdel from 2006-2008. “Once we started the seven-on-sevens (passing competitions) this summer and I saw his ability to read and throw, I was very confident he would have a good year.”

DeMato, who said his family moved from North Brunswick to Manalapan during the offseason, said Bishop Ahr ran the spread formation during his freshman year.

“I still remembered some of the concepts of that, but the Wing-T kind of erased them,” DeMato said. “As I came in here, I knew some of the concepts and the coaches helped me and I studied to make sure by the time we started the season I was ready and up to date with all the information.”

More USA TODAY High School Sports