Marc Narducci: Pennsauken's Cortez has big night in win over Millville

Posted: December 04, 2011

A year ago, Pennsauken quarterback Manny Cortez enjoyed a fine season, throwing 10 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. He was known as somebody who could manage an offense.

Things changed drastically in his senior season, in which he went from managing to dominating games.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior put together one of the most dominating championship performances in South Jersey history and put an exclamation point on a truly memorable senior season.

There was very little Cortez didn't do, and he did it all in spectacular fashion during Friday night's 55-34 win over Millville in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 final.

"I don't know if I will ever see a game like this again," Pennsauken coach Clinton Tabb said.

Cortez completed 16 of 26 passes for 340 yards and five touchdowns. He ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.

For good measure, Cortez also ran for a two-point conversion on a fake.

And in the process, he set the South Jersey single-season record for touchdown passes, ending with 43.

"Manny just does what it takes to win," said Pennsauken receiver Amar Williams, who also did his share. Williams had nine receptions for 185 yards and four touchdowns.

"We have a good chemistry," Cortez said in the understatement of the evening.

Pennsauken needed almost every bit of this offense because Millville (11-1) wouldn't go away.

The Thunderbolts got to within 41-34 on a 20-yard run by Alquann Jones with 10 minutes, 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

This was a big-play team Pennsauken was up against. Jones ended with 163 yards on 26 carries, giving him 2,286 yards for the season.

Pennsauken finally put the game away with touchdowns on the next two possessions, a 29-yard scoring strike to Williams and then a 32-yard run by Cortez.

"This means everything to me, being able to go out like this," Cortez said.

While his passing gets all the attention, Cortez made one of the great runs of all-time when he scored from 68 yards out in the second quarter.

On that play, he should have been sacked about five or six times, but Cortez kept wigwagging out of the way of would-be defenders.

It was the type of highlight-film play that has characterized his senior year.

His performance even took his coach a little by surprise.

"I thought we had the type of team that could contend for a championship, but no, I didn't think he would put up the numbers he has," Tabb said.

Those numbers include throwing for 3,098 yards for the 11-1 Indians, who won their fourth overall sectional title, but first since 1986.

Pennsauken has a rich football tradition, with the likes of Super Bowl hero John Taylor among the esteemed alumni.

Cortez has surely put his name in Pennsauken football lore. Nobody, even his coach, could see such an overwhelming, dominating season.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter. Find his Rally columns at www.philly.com/narducci

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