By Phil Anastasia
For the national anthem, Delsea's 19 seniors stood five yards on the field, arms locked, helmets on the ground on front of their feet.
It was a show of solidarity before the final game of their careers.
It also was a sign of things to come.
"To win a football game like this, you have to be 'one,'" Delsea senior linebacker Scott Parker said after the Crusaders' 31-7 victory over Barnegat in the South Jersey Group 3 title game on Satursday night at Rowan University.
Parker led a dominating defense and Delsea's potent ground game generated 369 rushing yards as the Crusaders (10-2) won their 11th South Jersey title, and fourth since 2008.
Senior quarterback Rob Rolle ran 11 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Senior fullback Rob Hooks ran 16 times for 108 yards and a touchdown. Junior Isaiah Spencer added 173 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries for Delsea, the No. 7 team in The Inquirer Top 25.
Senior defensive back Ronnie Russell added two interceptions for Delsea, which has won back-to-back South Jersey Group 3 titles.
"I can't even describe how close we are," said Rolle, a Villanoca recruit. "In this program, you spend so much time together, you become a brotherhood. That's what we carry on the field."
Delsea's defense, which was the key to the team's season-closing, eight-game winning streak, dominated a Barnegat team that entered play with a 10-1 record.
Barnegat managed just 52 yards and three first downs through the first three quarters, by which time Delsea had a 31-0 lead.
Parker led the defensive effort from his inside linebacker spot, making several jarring tackles as well as blocking a punt.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Parker said.
Delsea was 2-2 after four games, with losses to Camden and Kingsway. But the Crusaders surged through the remainder of the season, winning their final eight games by 17 or more points.
"We lock arms to show we're 'one,' Rolle said of the Delsea seniors. "Then we go out on the field and play like brothers."
Delsea 0 17 14 0 -- 31
Barnegat 0 0 0 7 -- 7
D: Bronson Deckert 28 FG
D: Rob Rolle 40 run (Deckert kick)
D: Rolle 1 run (Deckert kick)
D: Rob Hooks 3 run (Deckert kick)
D: Spencer 41 run (Deckert kick)
B: Manny Bowen 8 pass from Cinjun Erskine (Ryan Ulrich kick)
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org