CHERRY HILL – Through the long senior night festivities, the No. 2 in green stood with his mother and trainer. He listened to the names of his 20 or so upperclassmen teammates and the cheers that followed.
Amidst the drizzle, Camden Catholic quarterback Tyree Rodgers couldn’t pay attention to the ceremony. His eyes continually drifted back to the end of the field.
“I was just looking at the scoreboard,” Rodgers said.
At the intermission, his Irish – ranked No. 2 in the Courier-Post Mean 15 – led Bishop Eustace, 6-0
Once the second half kicked off, the poised Rodgers helped Camden Catholic erupt for 29 second-half points. The Irish (8-0, 5-0) rolled to a 35-0 win and clinched an outright West Jersey Football League Royal Division title.
“Their athletes are where we don’t match up well,” Eustace coach Rob Cormier said. “You can only hold them down for so long.”
Star junior tailback Nazir Streater helped start the rally in the third quarter. On the first drive of the half, Streater ran seven times for 23 yards.
Rodgers mixed in a couple completions. Fullback Kris Noone punched it in from three yards out to push the lead to 13-0.
Streater scored again with 9:56 left in the game. Then, Rodgers shut out the lights on the festive night.
Two plays after linebacker Tyler Romano’s interception, the speedy Rodgers scored on a 19-yard scamper and a hop over the goal line.
Another two snaps stood between Rodgers and a big play. This time, an interception of Crusaders’ (5-3, 2-3) quarterback Kevin Brandt.
It only took a single snap for the finisher. A double play-action fake led to maximum protection.
“A hat trick play,” Rodgers said. “We drew it up this week and we only got one shot at it. Eustace was tired. I threw it as far as I could.”
Jamal Parker caught the deep pass down the middle of the field for the 58-yard touchdown.
In all, 67 seconds elapsed through Rodgers’ trio of big plays. He ended the game 8-of-13 for 196 yards and six carries for 49 more.
A night he described as “bittersweet” came to a storybook close.
“Yeah, the end was sweet,” Rodgers said. “We beat Eustace. Eight and O. Royal champs.
“But, this is my last regular-season game as a Fighting Irish.”
The Non-Public Group 3 playoffs await both teams. Both Cormier and Camden Catholic coach Nick Strom talked through the arithmetic after the game.
For Cormier, he hoped to get another shot at the Irish next week.
“For a 35-0 game, I don’t think they’re walking off the field thinking they beat on us,” Cormier said. “I want to stay in South Jersey. So as good as they are – and they’re very good – I’d like to see them again.”
The Crusaders hung tough for three quarters with long drives. But, two turnovers on downs near the end zone and a blocked field goal haunted the road team.
It wasn’t enough on a night made for Rodgers, his fellow seniors and the playmakers that are tough to hold down for long.
“Honestly, if it was another quarterback back there, we wouldn’t be as effective,” Streater, who finished with 129 yards and two scores said. “It was just fantastic (for Rodgers). I’m really, really happy for him.”
Mark Trible; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com
CAMDEN CATHOLIC 35
BISHOP EUSTACE 0
Player of the game: Irish senior quarterback Tyree Rodgers threw for 196 yards and a touchdown, ran for 49 yards and a score and came down with an inteception.
Play of the game: Rodgers’ 58-yard pass to Jamal Parker put the finishing touches on the senior night win.
Well said: “We beat Eustace. Eight and oh. Royal champs.” – Rogers
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