October 2, 2010

No. 15 Don Bosco tops No. 97 Bergen Catholic

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ORADELL, N.J. - As the final seconds ticked off the clock, as his Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic players muddled among themselves, not sure of what to do - not sure of what to make of the 38-18 whipping Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep had just put on them - head coach Nunzio Campanile was definitive in his desire to make his way across the field.

First it was a walk. Then a light jog. It ended with a long embrace with Don Bosco Prep head coach Greg Toal.

Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini this was not.

If there was any love lost between the coaches after Campanile left Toal's staff in the off-season to take over as head coach of Don Bosco Prep's biggest rival, it wasn't evident here Saturday afternoon.

Or when Campanile made his way through the other coaches, trainers, parents - pretty much anyone with the maroon colors of Don Bosco Prep - with a bear hug for them all.

"There's a lot of people over there that I really care about," Campanile said.

Of course a few hours earlier, all those people cared about was beating Campanile. For a while, they were a bit nervous.

Bergen Catholic, No. 97 in the RivalsHigh Top 100, started the game quickly. It drove down the field with ease on its first possession, but stalled in the red zone, settling for a 25-yard field and a 3-0 lead. It then recovered a surprise onside kick and rolled down the field again.

Campanile, calling the plays, was on his game. Mixing runs and passes perfectly. Then everything turned.

With Bergen Catholic seemingly ready to go into the end zone, Don Bosco's Lars Larsen stepped in front of a Tanner McEvoy pass for a drive-ending interception.

Don Bosco then showed why it's the defending national champs and No. 15 in the rankings. Its offense, on the sidelines until then, needed just three plays to score, going in on a 54-yard screen pass to Tom Schlett to make it 7-3.

Bergen Catholic's offense wasn't ready to quit as it gained the red zone again. But again, it came up empty, this time turning it over on downs.

Don Bosco took control from there, adding a 1-yard sneak from quarterback Gary Nova in the second quarter to take a 14-3 halftime lead.

Bergen Catholic gave it one more shot in the second half, seemingly getting a spark when it blocked a Don Bosco Prep punt on its first series. But McEvoy threw the second of three interceptions, this one to Michael Strizak, who returned it to the 9.

Three plays later, Nova went in from 1 yard again to make it 21-3 and the game was never in doubt again.

No. 1 Don Bosco Prep topples No. 2 Bergen Catholic, 38-18
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A fairy-tale ending? Not here. Don Bosco overwhelmed and overpowered a downtrodden Bergen Catholic team the rest of the way.

Campanile, used to a stock-pile of talent, seemingly had McEvoy and little else.

The converted wide receiver passed for 258 yards and two TDs but spent most of the day running - sometimes designed, sometimes for his own safety - for another 134 yards on 24 attempts.

Bosco, meanwhile, had Nova, who passed for 152 yards in addition to his two rushing TDs. And running back Paul Canevari's bruising running style took its toll in the second half, where he ran for 113 of his 145 yards and two late TDs.

All that was left was the hugs. The biggest went to Toal.

"He's a friend and a mentor," Campanile said. "He's taught me so much about so many things. I just have so much respect for him."

But will he ever be able to beat him? The victory was Don Bosco's seventh straight in the series, 13th in the last 14th meetings.

The hiring of Campanile was a signal the school was ready to change this - ready to reclaim the title it used to hold: New Jersey's best team.

Campanile feels it's just a matter of time.

"We're every bit as good as they are," he said. "But we made a lot of mistakes and they took advantage of our mistakes."

Campanile said his past association with Don Bosco wasn't an issue all week - "the only people who brought it up were the media," he said.

But there was no mistaking it on this day.

As he walked off the field, Nova and backup quarterback Mike Yankovich ran over to the coach they had learned so much from. Campanile had a bear hug for each of them.

If only his team had wrapped up that well during the game.


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