As he was engineering 30 unanswered points to end his final high school game, Camden Catholic quarterback Tyree Rodgers realized one final time how special it is to take snaps behind center.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior completed 14 of 21 passes for 216 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also ran for a score as Camden Catholic spotted Paul VI the first nine points before winning their Thanksgiving rivalry, 30-9, at the Irish's Shamrock Field.
Rodgers, who also plays defensive back, is talented enough to have earned a football scholarship to Old Dominion. He was recruited as a receiver, a position where he had considerable success during his sophomore year.
He has been the Camden Catholic quarterback the last two years, and the results have been terrific. The team's record is 17-3 with him as starter after the Irish, who are ranked No. 4 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, finished 9-1.
"I will miss it," he said about playing quarterback.
Rodgers said Army was the only school that recruited him as a quarterback.
Camden Catholic coach Nick Strom believes that Rodgers has all the qualities to be a college quarterback. Strom understands college coaches want their quarterbacks in the 6-foot-4, 210-pound range, but not everybody who has played that position fits that profile.
What Strom especially likes about Rodgers is his football IQ.
"He thinks the game, and as a coach you want your players to make suggestions," Strom said.
Not only does Strom welcome suggestions, he often uses them. For instance, on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Nolan Gerold in the fourth quarter, Rodgers called the play, a bootleg, hitting Gerold on the move.
"He told me he thought it would work, and I told him to go do it," Strom said. "As a quarterback he has an unbelievable arm, intelligence, and running ability."
Trailing by 9-0, Rodgers led the Irish to two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half. Anthony Richardson (seven receptions, 161 yards) caught a 32-yard pass, and Rodgers scored on a 5-yard run. The Irish never looked back.
Late in the third quarter, with the Irish up, 21-9, silence came over the packed stadium when Paul VI tight end Adam Costantino was hurt. He was taken to the hospital on a stretcher.
Contacted later, coach John Doherty said Costantino was out of the hospital and had suffered a neck sprain.
That was a positive development from what has become one of South Jersey's better rivalries. No. 14 Paul VI ended 6-4, playing a competitive schedule. Each of the last two years, Rodgers engineered wins over the Eagles, by a combined score of 68-24.
"He's a great player," said Paul VI linebacker John Santini.
Santini, who enjoyed an exceptional game himself, has competed against Rodgers since midget football.
"He ruined a championship for us in sixth grade," Santini said in admiration. "He is just an awesome player."
And one could say an awesome quarterback.
"I would have liked the chance to play quarterback at the next level, but I am really grateful to have a scholarship," Rodgers said.
With that in mind, here's hoping the coaches at ODU at least keep the wide receiver option pass in the playbook. Rodgers appears to have a number of quality throws left in his right arm.
Paul VI 0 9 0 0 - 9
Camden Catholic 0 15 6 9 - 30
P: FG Gavin Sentak 29
P: Stefone Moore-Green 13 pass from Matt
Vitale (kick failed)
C: Anthony Richardson 32 pass from Tyree
Rodgers (Brian Cooey kick)
C: Rodgers 5 run (Kris Noone pass from Joe
C: Jamal Parker 4 run (pass failed)
C: Nolan Gerold 13 pass from Rodgers (kick
C: FG Cooey 30