CHAMPIONSHIP games call for champion efforts.
Whether braving the cold, an injury or a spectacular opponent, to become a winner one must overcome any and all obstacles.
Delsea's John Hickman did all that when his team defeated visiting West Deptford, 17-14, last Friday and captured the South Jersey Group 2 title.
Hickman, a 6-foot, 220-pound junior, didn't miss a play in the first half from either his left defensive tackle or left offensive guard positions, despite suffering a broken bone in his fibula just 2 weeks before.
That's right. Hickman was playing with a broken leg.
"I got the OK from the doctors during the week to play," said Hickman, who was pivotal in Delsea's strong running game all season. "The pain wasn't that bad. I got fitted for a brace and wore it for the first time [against West Deptford]. It's a championship game. You can't let something like an injury keep you from playing."
Even a broken leg.
Funny thing was, Hickman missed the second half of the game because he "got his bell rung." After the win, Hickman was asked what hurt more, his leg or his head.
"I can't remember," he said. When a reporter raised an eyebrow to that answer, Hickman was reassuring. "No, I don't mean I can't remember things. I mean, winning this is so great, I don't even remember being injured."
And off he went to celebrate with teammates. With a slight limp and an occasional rub of his temple.
Two in a row
Tim McAneney took over a
Holy Cross team this season that won the Non-Public 2 title last season but also lost a slew of players to graduation.
Expectations were high, however, as they always seem to be for the Lancers. Most of the hype surrounded superb running back Dan Dash.
When Dash hurt his ankle during the team's first workouts, doubts had to arise about the ability of McAneney's top rusher. Sunday, Holy Cross (8-3) won its second straight title with a 7-0 triumph over Hudson Catholic.
"I don't want to sound like the Oakland Raiders, but the kids did have a commitment to excellence," McAneney said. "They wanted to get it done. Before the season, nobody really had us picked to get back there [title game], let alone repeat.
"We had our ups and downs during the season but the kids just kept plugging along."
Due to his ankle injury, Dash was limited to less than 100 carries for the season, a mark he probably would have reached before the first half of the season, had he been healthy.
"Guys like Aaron Fant, and Kevin Raymond, who never played offense before, and Dai'Shon Munger really bailed us out after Dan got hurt," McAneney said. "If you would have told me before the year that Danny Dash would be hurt, I wouldn't have expected us to have the kind of year we had."
Ironically, it was the second straight year the Lancers pitched a shutout in the title game (they beat Gloucester Catholic, 17-0, last season). McAneney was the defensive
coordinator for that team.
While gaining its second-straight Group 1 win Saturday, Glassboro finished 12-0, a feat it also accomplished last season. The 24-game winning streak is the longest in South Jersey . . . Shawnee's Chris LaPierre finished the season with 44 touchdowns and 272 points, both state records for a single-season. Though he led the Renegades to a perfect 12-0 season, he will be playing lacrosse for Virginia next season. For those who don't know, that's the equivalent of playing basketball for UCLA . . . If our arm was pulled behind our back and we were forced to pick a team to look out for next year, we'd go with Williamstown . . . Next week we'll take a look at our preseason Top 10 boys' basketball teams. *