Ja’son Prevard and Jahmeer Cartagena have been playing football together for years.
Living minutes apart in Atlantic City, they grew up playing dwarf ball for the AC Dolphins. There is a certain level of trust that they have in each other.
âWe are a very dangerous combination,â said PrÃ©vard. “In practice, I always preach to him that I’m going to put some air under the ball and you are going to get it.”
Cartagena said: âIf I look at him with a certain face, he knows what’s going on. He is my brother. It’s just a link.
Playing for the same high school team for the first time this season, the duo were certainly pretty dynamic on what was a big Saturday afternoon for the St. Joseph (Hamm.) Football schedule.
Prevard made 10 of 19 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns – two touchdown goals for his longtime friend – as No.19 St. Joseph (Hamm.) Beat Washington Township 31-21 to win the continental division of the West Jersey Football League. Title.
âThey are exceptional and do a great job together,â said longtime St. Joe’s coach Paul Sacco.
Cartagena finished with five catches for 178 yards, scoring on a 55-yard pass in the second quarter and adding a 35-yard reception early in the fourth.
“We’ve been dreaming about it since we were little,” said Cartagena, an Atlantic City transfer.
The two oldest, Prevard and Cartagena, take the train from AC to Hammonton every morning to go to school.
âHe’s brought a lot to the team this year,â said PrÃ©vard. âEvery year St. Joe has a point guard and he’s just been here to do plays and have fun. It’s great that he’s my brother and that we’re having fun together.
âThe chemistry is really there and it’s really nice to be together again. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to feelâ¦ it’s awesome. We are best friends. We are talking about making plays. We’re talking about winningâ¦ we want to win the state title. This is the main objective.
Prevard also joined Cohl Mercado on a 26-yard touchdown pass and Jahqir Haley on a 7-yard first-half play. Prevard completed his first six assists of the game.
âHe’s come a long way,â Sacco said of Prevard’s development as a quarterback.
Playing at William T. Capella Memorial Field in Hammonton, a few blocks from St. Joseph’s Academy, the Homecoming contest was as close as the Wildcats were going to play a real home game this season. It was made all the more memorable as Sacco recorded his 350th career victory.
In his 40th season at the helm of his alma mater, Sacco is 350-70-5 – New Jersey’s most successful active coach. Its teams won 20 state championships and won seven section titles before the start of the non-public playoffs.
âIt’s a large number. Did I think I would be around this long for this? Not at all, âSacco said. âIt has been one of the toughest years in training.
âNumbers are meant to be broken. When I leave, someone else will break this number.
Winner of five straight games, St. Joe (7-2) took a 21-0 lead before Washington Township (6-2) scored a pair of touchdowns just 14 seconds apart.
Jo’Nathan Silver put the Minutemen on the scoreboard with a 68-yard rush. And in the ensuing kick-off, Giuliano Scavetta snatched the ball from the St. Joe returner and ran 32 yards to make it 21-14 with 8:29 left in the first half.
St. Joe took that lead at halftime. The Wildcats then added a 37-yard field goal by Trevin DelGozzo in the third and Prevard hit Cartagena for the duo’s second TD connection early in the fourth.
Washington Township scored with just over a minute to go when a pass from Jared Dzierzgowski was reversed and fell to Michael Lotsey for 48 yards.
âWe started badly. Obviously spotting them 21 early on makes it difficult to rally, âWashington township coach Mike Schatzman said. âThey have athletes everywhere which makes it difficult.
âOur guys fought until the last whistle, and that’s what I’m looking for. It was the opportunity to play against a competition, one of the best schools in South Jersey. This is our first experience in a long time playing a game of this caliber. I like the way we fight.
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Kevin Minnick covers the West Jersey Football League. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @kminnicksports