Football – Wall Beats Delsea to Win First Sectional Title in 14 Years
GLASSBORO - Facing a four-time defending NJSIAA sectional champion, the Wall football team did not employ any tricks and feature anything new in order to dethrone Delsea in Saturday's NJSIAA South Jersey Group III championship game at Rowan University.
Instead, the Crimson Knights took the game right to the Crusaders and ended a 14-year championship drought.
Senior running back Sean Larkin capped a dominant playoff run with 171 yards on 33 carries and a pair of touchdowns behind an overpowering offensive line and Wall beat Delsea, 20-7, to win its first sectional championship since 2002 and fourth overall title.
"It was three-years in the making with this group," Wall coach Dan Curcione said. "We knew we had a good group and it was a senior-heavy group, which makes it pretty damn emotional. You're around the guys this long and that much, you care about them."
Wall completely controlled the game in the first half and raced out to a 20-0 lead by the break. Larkin racked up 140 of his yards before halftime, while junior Chavesse Covin ran for 50 of his 56 yards during the first half, including the game's first touchdown.
The Crimson Knights opened the game with a 14-play, 81-yard drive that Covin capped with a 16-yard run around the right end for the opening score with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
"We knew they hadn't seen a power football team like us," Larkin said. "We knew we had to control the line and we did."
"If we drew it up perfectly, that's how it would have went," Curcione said of his team's start. "I have a lot of faith in our guys and that's what we do. It wasn't that surprising to me because we run the ball. I hadn't seen (Delsea) play a team all year that was going to go right at them. They play a lot of spread teams and a lot of pass-first teams, so I was anxious to see how well we would gain some yards on the ground."
Wall's defense earned a three-and-out and the offense again ran 14 plays on the next drive. Delsea, however, stopped Larkin short of the goal line on a 4th-and-goal from the one.
On the first play following a Delsea punt, Larkin broke free for a 43-yard touchdown run up the left sideline to put Wall ahead 13-0 following Aidan Mulreed's extra point.
Mike Capra ended the next Delsea drive when he picked off quarterback Keelan Borguet's pass at the Wall 48 and returned it to the Delsea 34.
Six plays later, Larkin burst through the middle for a five-yard score and a 20-0 Wall lead.
In that first half, Wall outgained Delsea 226-54 and ran more than twice as many plays (36-17) as the Crusaders.
Delsea flipped the script in the second half and pulled to within 20-7 with 9:36 left on the heels of a 17-play, 88-yard drive. Wall aided the Crusader cause by committing a roughing the passer penalty on 4th-and-14 from the 29 yard-line, which extended the drive. Running back Rashaad Williams carried the ball 14 yards into the endzone on the next play.
Wall had a chance to go up four scores, but quarterback Eddie Scott fumbled the ball inside the Delsea 20 yardline and the Crusaders recovered on the Wall 12 to set up their 88-yard drive.
Delsea made one last-ditch effort to stay in the game, but R.J. Janeczek picked off Borguet's pass at the one yard-line with six seconds left to seal it.
"Our defense is very good," Larkin said. "We had to come up with a couple plays and we were able to get it done."
The roughing the passer penalty and fumble were one of a handful of second-half miscues for Wall after a near-perfect first half. Delsea also converted a 4th-and-11 on an 11-yard sweep by Charles Walker, drew a personal foul penalty and had issues in the kicking and punting game.
"I coach the defense and I call the defense, so I was focused on was how to stop the weak-side midline," Curcione said. "I was thinkin football and I was thinking our guys had a lot of guts and I thought they'd get a stop. I wish we played smarter at times, but I had confidence our defense would come through."
Larkin finishes his senior season with 1,620 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns, including 792 yards and 13 touchdowns in three playoff wins.
"He played possessed," Curcione said of Larkin. "He's one hell of a ballplayer. He puts a lot of time and effort into it and he's a tough customer."
Wall not only ended a 14-year drought without a sectional championship Saturday, but also capped a 10-2 season that snapped a run of four straight losing season. The Crimson Knights ended a 3-7 season in 2014 with a 42-0 loss to Delsea in the South Jersey Group III first round.
"It's an unbelievably great community," Curcione said. "To see (the alumni) come out and support the team today means the world to us. In 14 years, it just proves how hard this is. (Delsea) won it four years in a row and that's not the norm. It's the exception to the rule and that makes this very special."
Wall 20, Delsea 7
W - Chavesse Covin 16 run (kick blocked)
W - Sean Larkin 43 run (Aidan Mulreed kick)
W - Sean Larkin 5 run (Aidan Mulreed kick)
D - Rashaad Williams 14 run (Larry Holdcraft kick)
Rushing - D: Rashaad Williams 14-78, Keelan Borguet 11-55, Taj Summiel 7-11, Charles Walker 6-38, Nick McDonnell 1-2; W: Sean Larkin 33-171, Chevesse Covin 9-56, Eddie Scott 6-30, Brady McNally 1-0.
Passing - D: Keelan Borguet 0-9-1 0; W: Eddie Scott 1-2-0 12
Receiving - W: Gene Scott 1-12
Interceptions-Return Yards: W - Mike Capra 1-18, R.J. Janeczek 1-1