Phil Anastasia: Pinckney leads Haddon Heights past Audubon

Dante Pinckney makes a cut as he runs against Audubon. He passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in Haddon Heights' win over the Green Wave. APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer
Dante Pinckney makes a cut as he runs against Audubon. He passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in Haddon Heights' win over the Green Wave. APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer
Posted: September 16, 2012

Different quarterbacks have different roles in different offenses.

Some are game managers who try to limit their mistakes. Some are better runners than throwers. Some showcase their strong arms in prolific passing attacks.

Dante Pinckney has been a quarterback for most of his football career. He can run and pass, and he prides himself on his ability to distribute the football to his teammates.

But Pinckney knows the best part of being a quarterback, especially in Haddon Heights' no-huddle, spread offense.

"It's the responsibility," Pinckney said. "I like how everything is on my shoulders."

Pinckney waited for two seasons to get back to his favorite position, but he's making the most of his return. He has led Haddon Heights to a 2-0 start, including Saturday's 48-20 victory over visiting Audubon in a Colonial Conference interdivision game.

Pinckney was 11-for-14 passing for 221 yards and three touchdowns. He ran five times for 77 yards and another touchdown, and also ran for a two-point conversion.

Best of all, Pinckney operated the Garnets' fast-paced, multiple-choice offense to near-perfection for the second week in a row.

"I'm actually a little surprised," Haddon Heights coach Ralph Schiavo said. "We put a lot on Dante, and he's been so calm, so controlled. He's played with great authority, and the kids have responded to him."

In two games, Pinckney is 18 for 23 for 314 yards and six touchdowns as Haddon Heights has scored 94 points. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete has spread the football around like a top point guard in basketball.

On Saturday, senior wide receivers Kenny Lewis and Kashif Miller combined for seven catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns, and seniors Brandon Smith (eight carries, 103 yards) and Brandon Joyner (10 carries, 63 yards, three touchdowns) moved the football over land.

"We've got a lot of different people to give the ball to, and they all deserve it," Pinckney said. "They all work hard, and they all are top athletes. I try to keep them all happy, but it's not easy."

Pinckney said he was a quarterback in youth football for the Sterling Knights in Stratford and the Lawnside Jaguars. He also played quarterback as a freshman at Haddon Heights.

But Pinckney was a wide receiver as a sophomore and junior as Nick Lundholm played quarterback for the Garnets. Pinckney got to pass the football on end-arounds and trick plays last season, and he was 6 for 6 with two touchdowns.

"I learned a lot playing wide receiver," Pinckney said. "It helped me as a quarterback because I learned how wide receivers get open, how they get in zones. I knew my chance [to play quarterback] would come."

Despite Pinckney's lack of varsity experience at the position, Schiavo and his staff installed a new offense in June that relies heavily on his quarterback's ability to make decisions in the heat of the action.

The Garnets don't huddle. They spread the field. Their running game is mostly a series of option plays in which Pinckney decides whether to hand off or keep the football.

"I was asking my coaches, 'Are we putting too much on him?' " Schiavo said. "They were like, 'He can handle it.' He's done a great job. He's got a great grasp on what we want to do."

Pinckney opened the scoring with a 36-yard strike to Lewis on a third and 21. He also threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Miller.

His best play might have been a 13-yard scoring pass to Miller. It was an audible that took advantage of Audubon's coverage scheme.

"That's what I love about this offense," Pinckney said. "I love to operate this offense because it's all on me, and my teammates trust me to make the right decisions."

Audubon 6 0 7 7 – 20

Haddon Hts. 13 21 7 7 – 48

HH: Kenny Lewis 36 pass from Dante Pinckney (Ian Lynch kick)

A: Kahleil Chisolm 2 run (kick failed)

HH: Kashif Miller 13 pass from Pinckney (kick failed)

HH: Miller 55 pass from Pinckney (Pinckney run)

HH: Pinckney 6 run (Lynch kick)

HH: Brandon Joyner 18 run (kick failed)

A: Chisolm 2 run (Eric Schorr kick)

HH: Joyner 5 run (Lynch kick)

HH: Joyner 26 run (Lynch kick)

A: Chisolm 8 run (Schorr kick)


Contact Phil Anastasia

at 856-779-3223, panastasia@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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