By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
OCEAN CITY — The body of work the Ocean City football team’s offense had compiled throughout the 2020 season told senior quarterback Joe Repetti that his Red Raiders had more than just a puncher’s chance to wipe out a 22-point halftime deficit against Williamstown in a pre-Thanksgiving matchup that was whipped together by both schools in the span of just a few days.
Repetti never got to take another snap in his high school career, though, as the game was called off at halftime with Ocean City trailing the Braves — the former No. 1 team in Glory Days Magazine’s Best 11 rankings — 22-6. Williamstown High’s administration called its team back home during halftime after a close contact with the team tested positive for COVID during the halftime break. Just like that, the careers of dozens of seniors on both rosters came to a crashing and confusing halt.
It also marked the end of a couple of gut-wrenching weeks for an Ocean City team that fought all year to have a chance to become South Jersey’s best team. The Red Raiders didn’t make it into the West Jersey Football League’s top “playoff pod” but still had a chance to win the league’s second-tier pod after a 12-7 win over St. Joseph Academy. But then Camden, Ocean City’s would-be opponent in the Pod B championship game, pulled out. That left the Red Raiders scrambling just to find any kind of game, so they took a date with North Jersey powerhouse DePaul, and the Spartans handed Ocean City its first loss of the season, 49-22.
“We were just looking for any opportunity to play football games at that point, especially at home. It’s always nice to have a home game, but just to be out here playing with all the boys again, it’s a great feeling,” Repetti said. “We were having a helluva season coming off that win over St. Joseph Academy, and we tried to prove what South Jersey football is to a North Jersey power. We battled, but they overtook us in the second half.”
“I don’t even know what to say. We obviously played a pretty poor first half, but, honestly, I don’t even care. It’s just so surreal. The whole year has been surreal, obviously. These guys are devastated right now. The last two weeks for us, I don’t even know how to describe it — it started with Camden pulling out, us trying to find a game, then playing that powerhouse from North Jersey just to get these guys a game; Pleasantville pulling out (of the traditional Thanksgiving matchup), more scrambling,” said Ocean City coach Kevin Smith. “This game was on, then it was off, then it was on again — it’s been an emotional roller coaster for these guys. I just hope how it ended won’t affect the way they reflect on the season. It’s been an amazing season for these guys. I’m so proud of them.”
Williamstown came out strong against Ocean City and led from the start, as quarterback Dougie Brown hooked up with Keon Saab on an early touchdown pass. Turner Inge added a couple rushing touchdowns and Lorenzo Hines broke loose for a long TD run late in the second quarter. Ocean City did make a little history during the first half, however, as Repetti hooked up with Jake Schneider for the quarterback’s 32nd career touchdown pass, breaking a school record.
“I just think this is a special group of guys we have out here. We gave it everything we have this season and we had one of the best seasons in program history. I can’t say we could have done any better this season. We knew we were lucky to make it this far without having any major bumps in the road and we knew we were lucky to even have a game tonight. Overall, it hurts to go out like that — going into halftime and thinking we’re going to have a chance to come out in the second half strong and make this a football game again, and then it’s over just like that. It hurts,” Repetti said. “This is a great group of athletes. Every day, every practice we come out here and we’re grinding trying to get better, in the summer we were out here even when we couldn’t practice we’d have guys out here just throwing the ball around. We did everything we could. It’s a special group of guys out here. They’re all my brothers, we’ve been playing football together for 12 years now, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
What’s next: The season is complete for both Williamstown and Ocean City.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays