Jamie Docka never hesitated when he denied rumors that he may ask the Amherst football coaching staff to switch him to wide receiver for the remainder of the season.
A lineman throughout his varsity career, Docka flashed velcro for hands and the nimble feet of a future “Dancing with the Stars” winner after picking off his first pass and returning it for a touchdown.
The only thing missing from the 5-foot-11, 195-pound athlete was a special end zone dance that would have made Deion Sanders jealous.
Amherst had a lot to celebrate, including a pair of interceptions for fellow defensive lineman Tyler Biadasz, and the Falcons forced five turnovers in all to throttle Pacelli 48-8 at Community Stadium at Goerke Park on Friday night.
“I like being the center and getting in on all the action,” said Docka, whose performance on both sides of the ball helped Amherst extend its winning streak to 17 games heading into a showdown with Shiocton next Friday.
“All I thought was get the ball, tuck it away and run something like 10 or 15 yards,” he added. “I got swarmed and that was celebration enough for me, and hearing the crowd scream.”
All those cheers weren’t reserved for Docka either.
The Falcons scored the first three times it had the ball in the first quarter, and then repeated those results on each of their first three possessions of the second half to build a 48-0 lead and put a running clock into play.
“They’re a good football team, but not that much better than us,” Pacelli coach Steve Raczek said. “Whatever could go wrong did, and it was just one of those games.”
Sophomore quarter Garrett Groshek, who gained 144 yards on 16 carries, scored on a 1-yard run and connected with Hayden Blackford on a 38-yard scoring strike in the opening quarter.
He later added a 57-yard touchdown scamper. Connor Zblewski, Wyatt Brooks and Austin Boelte also scored on the ground.
Amherst finished with 406 yards of total offense, with 275 of those coming on the ground, as it continues to show progress on that side of the ball, bringing what constitutes a smile, okay, a grin, to the face of its head coach.
“We’ve gotten better and we’re growing as a team,” Mark Lusic said. “There were some days early in practice when I wondered how we were going to score. I think our young guys understand what it takes to play at this level and we’re more solid up front.”
While just about everything seemed o go right for the Falcons, the opposite was true for Pacelli.
Meanwhile, Pacelli showed the ability to move the ball through the air with a short passing game in the first half, but turnovers — three interceptions and a pair of lost fumbles — halted any momentum it might have been generating.
The Cardinals were able to avoid the shutout when senior quarterback Isaac Elliott, who completed 13 of 28 passes for 129 yards, hooked up with Brett O’Sullivan on a 15-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.
But the mistakes, combined with minus-7 yards rushing on 19 attempts, prevented Pacelli from staying within striking distance.
“When you give them what we gave them, it’s frustrating to the players and it’s frustrating to the coaches, but it is what it is,” Raczek said. “The kids stayed positive and I know we’re going to bounce back against Manawa, no doubt about it.”