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Oct 12, 2022

Saint John Vianney Tops Holmdel in Crosstown Gridiron Clash

By Les Pierce

Holmdel defensive back Will Gilfilian (25) pursues SJV’s Kyle Verriest (13).

The Saint John Vianney football squad laid claim to the “best in town” title with a 34-27 win over Holmdel. The contest was a seesaw battle with multiple lead changes and several exciting plays. The visiting Lancers ultimately clinched the victory with two big fourth-quarter plays.  

Holmdel took the opening kickoff and launched a 70-yard scoring drive that began with a 15-yard bootleg by QB Brayden Savage. The grinding trek consisted of a series of runs up the middle by Anthony Setteducate. The junior back then scored on a four-yard run with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter.

SJV countered with a three-play, 82-yard strike on runs by Kyle Verriest. The senior picked up 11 yards on the first play and broke away for a 40-yard scamper on the next snap. Verriest scored on a 31-yard run on the third play of the series to deadlock the score.

Holmdel fumbled away the ball at midfield on the ensuing possession. The Hornet defense halted the Lancer drive at the 18-yard line on a QB sack by Marc Dietz. SJV then took a 10-7 lead via a Mike McCormick 37-yard field goal.  

Later in the second quarter, Holmdel was victimized again on a blocked punt that resulted in a safety and a 12-7 SJV advantage.  

On the series that followed, Holmdel’s Malik Taskier intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards to the SJV 11-yard line. The home team regained the advantage at 14-12 on a one-yard plunge by Tim Haggerty with 3:04 left in the half.

SJV started the next series with a pair of pitch out runs by Jack Farah that netted 22 yards, followed by an eight-yard keeper by QB Aaron Van Trease to the 50.  

A 14-yard run and 20-yard reception by Verriest on consecutive plays advanced the Lancers to the 16-yard line. QB Van Trease then hit Joe Marcello for a touchdown pass that produced a 19-14 halftime advantage.

The third quarter was scoreless. Holmdel regained the lead for the last time at 20-19 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Setteducate went over from three yards out to complete a 59-yard drive.

SJV came back to score on a 73-yard catch and run touchdown by Farah. The Lancers then put the game out of reach with a 61-yard scoring run by Luca Minardo on their next series.

“Our guys fought for all 48 minutes,” first-year SJV Head Coach Jeff Papcun said. “Going into the game, the staff all week were telling our kids we would need to battle all game in order to come out victorious against Holmdel. We challenged them to fight, and they responded for all 48 minutes with high intensity football. I could not be more proud of how they played together as one, which is our motto.”

Holmdel Head Coach Jeff Rainess said, “At the end of the day, I am really proud of our kids, they battled their tails off. We are a young team with a lot of first-time starters, and that was a heck of an environment to be thrown into. The community really came out to support, and it was a great atmosphere. Now we’ve been through it a couple of times, and our kids are starting to understand that the smallest details can make the difference when you are playing against these really good teams. We will keep after it and keep trying to find a way to get better. I tell the kids that these types of situations are going to show up again and again down the road, and when they do, they need to learn from the mistakes and respond in a positive way. That’s how we are going to get this thing back on track.”