By LARRY HENRY JR

Correspondent

CHERRY HILL — On some days, everything just goes your way as a football team. For the Paul VI Eagles, Thanksgiving was their day to reap the rewards of that traditional saying. 

Quarterback Declan Williams headlined the Eagles’ 35-0 road win over rival Camden Catholic (6-4) on Thursday morning, capping off an impressive 7-3 season and a second consecutive winning campaign for the program. Williams totaled 222 combined yards and two passing touchdowns on offense, while also registering two interceptions and a blocked punt on special teams that resulted in a safety. 

It was a sensational end to a stellar career at PVI for Williams and a strong ending to Dennis Scuderi Sr.’s third season in charge of the program.

“All-in-all, it was a great season for us because we won seven games, we got to play a very talented Don Bosco Prep side in the playoffs, and we have a bright future with a lot of young players,” Scuderi said. “We’re going to lose Declan, which is a big loss, and a couple of other seniors, but I am very pleased with how we finished off this season.” 

“I have full confidence in the program to keep moving forward,” Williams said about the future of PVI football. “It’s a great way for me and a lot of the seniors to go out. To come here and do a lot of things right against our biggest rival, it’s the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving, that’s for sure.” 

Paul VI struck first in the first quarter and never looked back as the Eagles frustrated the Fighting Irish for 48 minutes. Williams connected with wide receiver Andy Tran on a 23-yard score on their second offensive drive, watching as Tran made the catch, juked an Irish secondary player and raced into the end zone. 

Matt Morad intercepted Irish quarterback Kevin Burr on the ensuing possession, giving Paul VI great field position to add to its lead. A 2-yard rushing score from Jamelle Brown capped off a 10-play drive for the Eagles, extending the visitors’ lead to 14-0 and keeping Camden Catholic under pressure on both sides of the ball. 

Ty Barbeeri and Christian Martin each added interceptions of their own later in the quarter, continuing a frustrating day for Gary Onuekwusi’s squad. 

The Williams-Tran connection hit pay dirt for a second time in the first half, this time scoring from 21 yards out for a 20-0 halftime advantage. Williams’ diving interception in front of the Paul VI fans capped off a dominant first half for PVI. The Irish were limited to only 10 yards of offense through the first two quarters. 

“I guess you can say I found my way near the football,” Williams jokingly admitted after his performance. “Seriously, though, I am very happy to help the team today and to cap off this great season. We knew the playoffs were going to be tough, but to come here and dominate like we did is a great achievement on its own.” 

The frustration for Camden Catholic’s offense continued in the third quarter as Williams registered his second interception of the day. Williams blitzed off the edge and hit Burr, knocking the ball into the air and Williams was able to corral it before the ball fell to the turf. Despite the Eagles not taking advantage of the good field position, Williams’ impact continued on the next Irish drive deep on their side of the field. 

Williams dove into the end zone to block an Irish punt attempt on fourth down, seeing the ball deflect out of bounds for a safety and a 22-0 Eagles lead. 

Morad’s 16-yard touchdown run and Isaiah Shafer’s 9-yard scamper in the fourth quarter capped the final score at 35-0, putting the icing on the cake for Scuderi, his coaching staff and players. 

“We had a lot of things go our way today and that’s a testament to the players’ hard work all season,” Scuderi said. “To register six turnovers on defense with a lot of young guys out there is an amazing achievement. We didn’t give them a lot of room to breathe and you could see that by the countless pressure we put them under.”

The Eagles finished with 283 yards of offense, seeing eight different players touch the football in some way. Defensively, they held the Irish to only 53 yards and registered five picks. 

It was the second consecutive Thanksgiving win for PVI over Camden Catholic and one that will go down in program history for how dominant the Eagles were in all aspects of the game.

“We had a great week of practice, especially on defense, and a lot of that credit goes to Coach Wayne,” Williams said. “It was our best performance of the season really and to have it happen today just makes it that much more special. It’s a perfect way to go out.” 

Larry Henry Jr. covers Camden and Burlington County sports for Glory Days Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @lhenry019