Staff Writer

ATLANTIC CITY — Joe Lyons, Atlantic City High’s senior quarterback, is an avid reader of the history of the National Football League and since he’s been a kid people have been calling him “Broadway Joe” after famed New York Jets signal caller Joe Namath.

Lyons has a new nickname these days — “Boardwalk Joe” — but he likes to think he has some of that Namath swagger in him.

It’s easy to have swagger when you have playmakers all over the field, and Atlantic City’s talents were on full display Friday night as the Vikings took an early 14-13 lead over visiting Absegami and turned it into a 50-13 rout by the end of the Bunting Family Pharmacy Game of the Week. It was the home opener for Atlantic City, and Vikings fans were in a full lather by halftime when the host team had raced out to a 29-13 lead by scoring 23 points in the second quarter.

“It was definitely special,” said Lyons, who went 17-of-25 for 208 yards, four passing TDs and a 25-yard rushing touchdown. “The first two games we were scoring, but not enough, so coming out and putting a 50-burger on a pretty good team, on our home field, was definitely helpful for our confidence.”

John Taylor celebrates a first-half touchdown by Atlantic City teammate Sah’nye Degraffenreidt. (South Jersey Glory Days photo/Sully)

After Absegami (1-2, 0-1 West Jersey Football League United) tied the game at 6 on a 13-yard screen pass from Kendall Armstrong to Richard Gibson, Atlantic City (3-0, 1-0 WJFL United) took the lead again one play later as senior running back Dre Rooks went 60 yards around the left side. Lyons connected with Sah’nye Degraffenreidt on the two-point conversion to put the Vikings up, 14-6.

“I just want to say, I had to recap from last year. I showed a horrible attitude last year, I threw my pads off and walked off the field,” Rooks said. “I promised my team I was going to get it back. My coach put us through that. We ran bleachers, we got through it. He pushed me through it. My quarterback helped me. Everybody on this team helped me get ready for today.

“I know this is my last year, and this is the only year I really have to go somewhere (to college).”

The Braves answered again as Armstrong hit Nyjere Robinson on a fade in the corner of the end zone. Robinson made a nifty one-handed grab on the fourth-down pass to pull Absegami to within 14-13.

But from there, it was all A.C. and Lyons.

On Atlantic City’s next possession, Lyons hit Khajuan Roseborough on a big gainer, and on 4 th-and-goal from the 12, Lyons rolled right and hit John Taylor in the back of the end zone for a 21-3 lead. A safety followed, and with 50 seconds left before halftime Lyons hooked up with Raul Cabrera over the middle for another Vikings touchdown and a 29-13 advantage.

“It’s my senior year, so I’m just trying to go out and show what I can do to go to the next level. Moving around in the pocket and running is going to help for my college experience,” Lyons said. “I just get the ball out quickly and let my playmakers make the play. Sometimes, I just give them a little quick screen, a little hitch, and they score from 50 (yards out), so that makes my job a lot easier.”

If the Braves had any hope of getting back into the game, those hopes were dashed after Atlantic City’s first possession of the third quarter. Lyons found Mikel Jones down the right side for a big gain and that set up Jones’ 18-yard touchdown run around the left end. That put the Vikings up, 37-13, and effectively put the game on ice.

Atlantic City running back Mikel Jones tries to break free from the grip of Absegami defensive back Sheldon Moore. (South Jersey Glory Days photo/Sully)

Lyons said he has great chemistry with all his receivers, and that rapport has been built through countless hours of work in the offseason and after summer practices.

“It’s just showing up every day, trying to pick them up, going to practice, staying after practice, throwing, teaching them, helping them,” he said. “That really helps in building that bond. Just talking, seeing what they like, what I like. Even with the coaching, building that bond. It really helps, staying after practice, hanging out with each other and just getting that bond.”

Rooks said he and his teammates were buoyed by the home crowd, which came out in force in support of the undefeated Vikings.

“My team, and the crowd (motivated me). I loved the crowd, I love my teammates and I love my coaches — they push me and motivate me. It’s a different environment at a home game, the stands fill up, people come out and show love. It’s a different environment. We’re a family out here,” Rooks said. “All I can say is, we put up basketball numbers, basically.”

Click the YouTube button to hear post-game comments from Atlantic City QB Joe Lyons.

Now, Atlantic City turns its attention to one of the biggest tests on its schedule — a home game against undefeated Mainland, a top-20 team in the state, next Friday night at 6 p.m. Last year, Mainland won, 56-26, and Lyons completed just nine passes for 103 yards.

“I’m really looking forward to that, especially with last year and what happened,” Lyons said. “It’s going to be a lot different from last year. It’s going to be a lot closer. It’s going to be one of the tough ones this year and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m already preparing for the next game.”

WHAT’S NEXT: Atlantic City hosts Mainland on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. Absegami travels to Egg Harbor Township on Sept. 14 (Thursday) at 6 p.m.

Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays