The St. John’s Cadets continued their climb back to the top of the rankings with a 24-20 victory over DeMatha on Saturday.
Coming into the game there was a question as to how effective quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava would be after suffering an apparent shoulder injury in St. John’s last game vs. Good Counsel. He answered in resounding fashion early and often.
The Cadets scored on their opening possession as Sol-Jay Maiava connected with Rakim Jarrett on a 59-yard catch and run for touchdown. DeMatha answered as Coziah Izzard recovered a fumble and returned for a score putting the Stags up 10-7 after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter, trailing 13-7, Maiava led the Cadets on a crucial drive, twice converting long third downs in the process. Antwain Littleton capped off the possession with a 2-yard touchdown run giving the Cadets a lead they would not relinquish.
“I thought he did a great job,” said head coach Joe Casamento. “He may not have been 100%, but he’s getting better. The thing about him is he’s a winner. He’s a great young man.”
DeMatha cut the lead to 24-20 on a Marshawn Lloyd leaping touchdown late in the third. In the fourth quarter, they twice drove the ball deep into St. John’s territory before the Cadets turned them back scoreless.
Led by Mekhail Sherman and Taizse Johnson, St. Johns stymied many of the Stags’ playmakers, holding a potent DeMatha attack to one offensive touchdown.
“I was tough on them all week, stressing the importance of staying in their gaps and rallying to the ball. They stuck to the game plan— they played hard, they played to the finish and I’m so proud of them,” said defensive coordinator and assoc head coach, Rashod Gillespie.
On the Stags final possession, they faced a 4th and long from the St. John’s 25-yard line, freshman quarterback Cameron Edge was intercepted by Xavier Terry, clinching the victory for the Cadets.
With three consecutive victories over WCAC foes, it is becoming more apparent that the battle-tested Cadets benefited from their challenging non-conference schedule.
“Our student-athletes get a great game every week because everybody we play can beat us. That’s what you want,” said Casamento, “if we don’t play well [against the caliber of teams we play] we will get beaten badly, because that’s what life is like, and I want our guys to understand that”.
St. John’s has one more opportunity to prove themselves against a high-quality opponent. Next week they face off with heated rival, the top-ranked Gonzaga Eagles.