'Block, Scoop, and Score' pays off for Vikings

The pass goes uncaught as Eastern's Eli Woodard (top) is hit by Timber Creek's Bill Burton on Sept. 13. Woodard has been a big part of 4-2 Eastern's offense. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
The pass goes uncaught as Eastern's Eli Woodard (top) is hit by Timber Creek's Bill Burton on Sept. 13. Woodard has been a big part of 4-2 Eastern's offense. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Eastern is 2-0 when it knocks down a punt and returns it for a TD.

Posted: October 15, 2012

The Eastern football team runs the drill every Tuesday.

It's called, "Block, Scoop, and Score."

It's designed to remind the guys on the Vikings' special-teams squads that they can make the difference between winning and losing.

"I think there's a stat out there that if you block a punt, you've got an 85 percent chance of winning that game," Eastern coach Dan Spittal said.

Eastern is 2-0 in games when the Vikings block a punt and score on the play.

They did it twice in a 31-20 victory over Cherry Hill East on Sept. 22.

They did it again on Friday night, as sophomore Alex Janesky blocked a punt and sophomore Tom Struckus returned it for the first score in a 36-20 victory over Clearview.

"Our guys know they can turn a game around on special teams," Spittal said. "When we practice that drill, they always are yelling at each other, 'Scoop and score.' We don't want to fall on it because it's going to be our ball anyway."

Eastern is 4-2 and in prime position to qualify for postseason play for the first time since 2009. The Vikings have a key game this Friday at home against Cherokee (2-3), which is coming off an overtime win over Shawnee.

Eastern has gotten great work from junior quarterback Tom Flacco as well as senior receivers Eli Woodard and Keyshawn Seegers. Junior running back T.J. Gardner ran for 196 yards and two touchdowns on Friday night.

The defense, led by senior linebacker Tyrone Thompson and junior linemen Kingsley Ayeni and Mike Montemurro, has been solid.

But special teams have made a major impact for Eastern. Senior Ed Kehoe leads South Jersey with six field goals. Junior Brian Hart is averaging 38 yards on punts.

And two games have turned in the Vikings' favor thanks to blocked punts that turned into touchdowns.

"We're starting to hit on all cylinders," Spittal said.

Tough loss. Holy Cross lost, 29-15, to 6-0 Allentown, a Central Jersey Group 3 power, in a game that was tied, 15-15, entering the fourth quarter on Friday night.

The tougher news for the Lancers might have come on the injury front, as senior offensive tackles Mauro Correnti (knee) and Jake Hansen (collarbone) were injured late in the game.

Holy Cross coach Frank Holmes said both players are scheduled to undergo MRI examinations this week. The Lancers (3-3) face Bordentown (4-1) in a key WJFL Liberty game on Friday.

"We probably will have four sophomores on the offensive line," Holmes said. "It's tough, but the good thing is that our younger kids are getting good experience against tough competition."

National honor. On Friday, Eastern senior defensive back Eli Woodard will be presented with his jersey to play in the All-American Bowl Jan. 10 in the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Woodard, who has committed to attend Ohio State, will join Timber Creek defensive tackle Greg Webb on the East team at the annual all-star game that brings together 90 of the top players in the country.

Football town. Cherry Hill West beat Woodrow Wilson by a 39-6 score on Friday night. Cherry Hill East beat Paul VI by a 39-21 score on Saturday afternoon.

When was the last time the two Cherry Hill teams won games by at least 18 points on the same weekend? It definitely hasn't happened since 2003.

Bear power. Delran is 6-0 for the first time since 1990, when the Bears won the South Jersey Group 2 title.

Delran won the South Jersey Group 2 title in 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1992. The Bears have not appeared in a sectional final since 1992.

But this year's team is projected as a favorite in Central Jersey Group 2. The Bears took a significant step with a 7-0 victory over previously undefeated Florence on Friday night.

"This team is starting to believe," Delran coach Pete Miles said.

This and that. Pennsville (3-2) has scored 70 points in its two losses, a 32-28 setback to Highland and a 43-42 defeat by Woodstown on Friday night. . . . St. Augustine Prep (5-0) is averaging 44.2 points behind senior running back Calvin Cass, who has 1,107 yards on 116 carries and has scored 23 touchdowns. . . . West Deptford (5-0) has three running backs with more than 300 yards: junior Gerald Owens (589) and seniors Josh Cornelius (316) and Connor Smith (316). The Eagles, who have won 14 in a row, are averaging 356 rushing yards. . . . Senior quarterback Josh Awotunde has completed 14 passes for Delsea (5-1) - five for touchdowns.

Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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