Linebacker Jones' interception return leads St. Joe Prep over La Salle

Olamide Zaccheaus runs in for a touchdown to give St. Joe's Prep the lead over La Salle.
Olamide Zaccheaus runs in for a touchdown to give St. Joe's Prep the lead over La Salle. (RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: October 15, 2012

LONG AFTER most folks had departed, a woman scurried over to Todd Jones, a senior linebacker for St. Joseph's Prep's football team, and said, excitedly, "Can I get a hug?! I'm the only one that didn't get one!"

No information was released on how many people were on hand Saturday night at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High - 5,000? 6,000? 7,000? - for a Catholic AAAA war between the Prep and archrival La Salle, but Jones placed his number for family/friends in attendance at 20.

His mother, Danetta Bates, was the gal who needed the hug, and due to Todd's exuberance, she was lucky she lived to tell about it. His dad, Todd Jones, and grandmother, Tamara Jones, also were in attendance and part of the on-field, postgame celebration, as was Sharief Williams, a best buddy since childhood.

Also among those who interacted with Jones after the Hawks' 24-16 victory - entertaining, yes, but also ugly due to 12 turnovers - was the guy who said this to him . . .

"I beat you to the end zone!"

Truthful? The video will have to be checked. But like many Prep supporters, that guy was pretty darn excited when the 6-2, 215-pound Jones made a crucial contribution.

Midway point of the third quarter. La Salle leads, 7-3. Chris Kane throws one over the middle. Jones intercepts and returns the ball for a 51-yard touchdown, scoring in the left corner.

"We had a blitz going on, so I had to drop back into man-to-man coverage," Jones said. "I saw them throwing to the back coming out of the backfield. As the ball was coming at me, I thought, 'I think I've got this. Take it to The House.' The coaches talked all week about how we had to make big plays. That's what that was.

"My fellow linebacker, John Antiskay, made a great block to get me to the sideline, then I just went from there. Near the end a guy tried to come up from behind and knock the ball out. I kept it."

Jones complemented his pick-six with eight tackles and received plenty of help from cornerback John Reid (two interceptions), tackle Paul Johnson and linebacker Tim Rafter, among others.

After spending one season at defensive end, due to the fact that last year's linebacking corps featured three seniors, Jones is thrilled to be back at his favorite position.

As for the win . . .

"Yeah, we were excited for this because there were lots of people," he said. "But really? It was just our next game. All part of the process."

At end, Jones was able to register a decent amount of sacks.

"But at linebacker," he said, "I'm involved in pass coverage more. I like being able to see everything, not just the one edge."

He smiled. "Chance for interceptions, too."

In its first six games, La Salle had frolicked to 24 offensive touchdowns. This time it managed just one - a 29-yard pass from Kane to Jared Herrmann - and the yield per play was only 3.5 yards. That TD hookup was the only pass play that went for more than 14 yards. The longest rush was an 11-yarder.

For the Prep, the offensive yield (on 77 plays!) was 414 yards and the best performance was turned in by soph running back Olamide Zaccheaus (22-198).

It was his 38-yard touchdown scamper, followed by Kyle Battin's kick, that made it 24-16 with 4:08 remaining. On the Hawks' previous scoring drive, which followed Herrmann's TD, Chris Martin had pinpointed Jawan McAllister for a 42-yard completion before surging in from the 2 five plays later.

When the game ended, the Hawks ran to the northeast end of the field and lined up side by side across the goal line.

They were motionless, briefly, until coach Gabe Infante walked toward them and yelled while beaming, "Hug each other, dammit!"

That happened, with gusto, and soon Jones, who lives on 4th near Moore, in South Philly, was receiving a game ball.

He'll stick it in a special place, but overall will move on. After all, it is only mid-October.

"We're not buying into the hype," Jones said. "One game. Nice win. Lots more to do."


Contact Ted Silary at silaryt@phillynews.com.

High school sports online at www.philly.com/rally.

 

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