Everyone at Vanacore Field knew that Jalon White was going to get his share of carries when the North Haven and Guilford football teams kicked off the 2012 football season on Sept. 14. What some people might not have known is that North Haven had a few other athletes ready to make their varsity mark on offense-such as senior captain Quincy Pecora and junior Mike Halloran-and behind one touchdown from each of them, plus a pair of scores by powerhouse White, Anthony Sagnella's squad won the SCC interdivisional battle 28-0.
Pecora notched the game's first touchdown on a 68-yard run just 1:24 into the second quarter to put North Haven ahead 6-0. Although Guilford's defense forced a few turnovers as Eric Zergiebel recovered a fumbled punt with Antonio Pensa later snagging an interception to keep it a one-score game at halftime, North Haven's efficient ground attack, coupled with a pair of picks by Carlos Martinez, blew open the game in the second half.
"Guilford definitely had the bull's-eye on Jalon and he deserves that attention, but our other kids responded favorably," Coach Sagnella said. "We know that Quincy and Mike can run and it was huge for them [to each score a touchdown]. This game sends a message that we're not a one-dimensional team."
White, who ran for 99 yards on 17 carries to complement his two scores, was as happy as anyone to see some of his fellow backfield mates get involved in North Haven's offensive outpouring.
"I want to score, but it's good that everyone gets to eat. My fakes make the defense follow me and that opens it up for guys like Quincy," said White, who captains North Haven with Pecora, Matt Marcarelli, and Joe Lopez. "We have some kids who didn't play a lot [on offense] last year and so to see them score touchdowns makes me happy. I'm not the only one out there."
Prior to scoring his TD, Pecora inadvertently touched a punt and senior Zergiebel pounced on it for Guilford at midfield. The Indians drove to North Haven's 21-yard line, but junior quarterback Joey Nault overthrew his receiver on 4th-and-6 and Guilford turned it over on downs. A few plays later, Pecora (6 carries, 112 yards) went 68 yards untouched down the sideline to his right, just beating a Guilford defender to the end zone for the season's first score. The extra point was blocked and North Haven led 6-0.
"I got a great block from [junior tailback] Ethan Suraci on the edge," said Pecora, a wingback/linebacker. "To score my first legit varsity touchdown was a great way to start the season."
The rest of the first half saw junior linebacker Patrick Mikos record a sack for North Haven and sophomore defensive back Pensa intercept White for Guilford after North Haven had reached the red zone as the 6-0 lead held up at halftime.
Early in the second half, North Haven junior linebacker Nick McInnis recovered a high snap on an attempted punt, setting up his squad at the Guilford 19. Four plays later on 4th-and-2, White went around left end, juked a defender at the 5, and found paydirt. Pecora then scored the two-point conversion on an end-around and it was 14-0.
After Guilford turned it over on downs at North Haven's 21, Halloran burst up the middle and raced 79 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown, which coupled with senior Sam Biller's kick, made it 21-0 with 2:53 left in the third quarter.
Guilford's next two drives resulted in Nault getting intercepted by junior defensive back Martinez and White made the Indians pay after the second one, first rushing for five yards on 4th-and-1, then leaping a defender into the end zone for a 5-yard TD. Biller booted the extra point and the score was finalized at 28-0.
Junior John Tondalo sacked Nault on Guilford's final drive and then North Haven sealed the shutout by recovering a KC Horton fumble and its own 3 after he had ran for a first down on 4th-and-3.
Additionally for the Indians' defense, White, Mikos, and junior Ethan Suraci each made eight tackles.
"I saw us get better as the game went on. We won the battles up front and that made our offense go," said Sagnella, whose team plays Xavier (1-0) at Middletown's Palmer Field at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21. "Defensively, there was a lot of growth there, too. We got Guilford in a situation where they were chasing the clock and the score and that was to our advantage."